Cortisol

Information

What is a Cortisol Test? 
A Cortisol test is a blood test that is done to measure the level of the hormone Cortisol. Cortisol helps the body use sugar and fat for energy, and it also helps the body manage stress. The level of Cortisol may show problems with the adrenal glands or pituitary gland.

Testing

Why should I get tested?
Symptoms that you may want to consider a Cortisol Test for include:

  • Weight gain, particularly around your midsection and upper back
  • Rounding of your face (moon face)
  • Fatty pad or hump between your shoulders (buffalo hump)
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Facial flushing
  • Pink or purple stretch marks on the skin of your abdomen, thighs, breasts and arms
  • Thin, fragile skin that bruises easily
  • Slow healing of sores and infections
  • Darkening of the skin (hyper pigmentation)
  • Thicker or more visible hair on the body and face (hirsutism)
  • Acne
  • Stress, depression, anxiety, irritability, and/or loss of emotional control
  • New or worsened high blood pressure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Cravings for salt
  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods in females
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Trouble getting or maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction also known as ED)

How should I prepare for the test?
You should avoid strenuous activity the day before a Cortisol Test, and you may be asked to lie down and relax for 30 minutes prior to the test.Also, you should avoid food and liquids (with the exception of water) for 8-12 hours prior to getting a Cortisol Test.

Results

What could my screening results mean?
High values of Cortisol could indicate Cushing’s syndrome, a pituitary gland or adrenal gland tumor, other types of cancer, long-term use of corticosteroids, severe liver or kidney disease, depression, hyperthyroidism, obesity, pregnancy, birth control, or recent surgery or illness.Low values of Cortisol could mean Addison’s disease or internal bleeding.Cortisol levels can be affected by many factors including physical or emotional stress, strenuous activity, infection, or injury. If your Cortisol Test indicates abnormalities, you should consult your healthcare provider for further analysis.  You should also tell your healthcare provider about any medication you are taking as they may affect the results.