What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone. The hormone is produced by and released from the adrenal gland. Cortisol levels increase in blood if a patient is taking estrogen or certain steroid medications, so the lab tech or doctor will ask if you are taking any medications before ordering the test or when reviewing the cortisol test results.
High levels of cortisol could be a sign of Cushing’s disease or pituitary or adrenal tumor. Tumors in any part of the body can produce cortisol and affect blood values. Low levels of cortisol are also indicative of disease. Just because a blood tests shows abnormal cortisol values does not mean testing is complete. Doctors will order additional testing to rule out or verify various diseases or conditions that could be causing the problem.
Symptoms that could spark the doctor to order a cortisol blood test include increased blood pressure, trunk obesity, osteoporosis or high blood glucose. Patients with unexplained weight loss, muscle weakness, irregular periods or low blood pressure could also have a cortisol-related condition.
Normal Value Range
- Negative Pregnancy Adult: 0 to 25 µg/dL or 0 to 690 µmol/L
- Pregnancy Trimester One: 7 to 19 µg/dL or 193 to 524 µmol/L
- Pregnancy Trimester Two: 10 to 42 µg/dL or 276 to 1159 µmol/L
- Pregnancy Trimester Three: 12 to 50 µg/dL or 331 to 1380 µmol/L