by dr. safaa ali
When is it ordered?
A cortisol test may be ordered when a person has symptoms that suggest a high level of cortisol and Cushing syndrome, such as
High blood pressure (hypertension)
High blood sugar (glucose)
Obesity, especially in the trunk
Purple streaks on the abdomen
Muscle wasting and weakness
Women may have irregular menstrual periods and increased facial hair; children may have delayed development and a short stature.
This test may be ordered when someone has symptoms suggestive of a low level of cortisol, adrenal insufficiency or Addison disease, such as:
Low blood pressure
Dark patches of skin—this occurs in Addison disease, but not secondary adrenal insufficiency
Sometimes decreased production combined with a stressor can cause an adrenal crisis that can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of a crisis may include:
Sudden onset of severe pain in the lower back, abdomen, or legs
Vomiting and diarrhea, resulting in dehydration
Low blood pressure (hypotension)
Loss of consciousness
Suppression or stimulation testing is ordered when initial findings are abnormal. Cortisol testing may be ordered at intervals after a diagnosis of Cushing syndrome or Addison disease to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.