5 Common Causes of High Cortisol

Cortisol is more than just a stress hormone and we all know, stress is not healthy and gives rise to a lot of problems from anxiety to diabetes.

This cortisol hormone is created in the adrenal glands of the body. Many cells in the human body have cortisol receptors that utilize this steroid hormone for a diverse variety of purposes, including:

  • Metabolic regulation
  • Episodic memory formulation
  • Blood glucose regulation
  • Inflammation reduction

High Cortisol – What Is It?

High cortisol, also called ‘Cushing syndrome’, is the outcome of your body creating a lot of cortisol than it is necessary. Some of the symptoms of high cortisol include purple stretch marks, thinning skin, slow-healing injuries, weight gain and fat in the face or midsection of the body.

Although there are many contributors to the growth of high cortisol in the body. However, using cortisol EIA kit can help you measure cortisol present in saliva, urine, plasma, and tissue culture media samples.

Common Causes

1. Chronic Stress

Stress activates signals from our hormones and nerves of the body. These signals instigate adrenal glands to discharge adrenaline and cortisol hormones.

This is the way your body prepares for harmful situations. Cortisol helps to restrict any function which is not necessary for a fight or flight circumstance. As the threat passes by, this stress hormone returns to its usual level.

Exposure to cortisol and other stress hormones for a longer span of time can weaken your body processes, increases your risk of health issues from heart disease and obesity to depression.

2. Adrenal Gland Tumors

Adrenal glands can be found above the kidneys. Adrenal tumors can be mild or cancerous and come in varied sizes. Both of these types can secrete cortisol hormone which may further lead to Cushing syndrome.

Besides, if the tumor is big enough to put force on adjacent organs, you may experience a little bloating in your stomach.

Usually, adrenal glands are found in 1 in 10 people having an imaging test of the adrenal gland. Cancer in adrenal is rare to see in people.

3. Pituitary Gland Issues

The pituitary gland is a small organ that resides at the base of your brain which regulates and controls the secretion of many hormones in your body.

Problems with the pituitary gland can cause it to under or over-produce hormones such as an adrenocorticotropic hormone. This is one such hormone that activates adrenal glands to release cortisol.

Pituitary conditions that give rise to high cortisol levels consist of hyperpituitarism, benign pituitary tumors, and cancerous tumors.

4. Medication Side Effects

There are certain medications that are the reason behind the increase in cortisol levels. For instance, oral contraceptives are connected to increased cortisol. Corticosteroid medications treat arthritis, asthma, cancer, and other conditions and cause high cortisol levels when consumed in a high dose.

There are some prescribed corticosteroids consisting of cortisone, dexamethasone, prednisone, and methylprednisolone.

Without gradual tapering, steroid medicines should not be stopped or else it may result in a low level of cortisol. This can result in low blood sugar, blood pressure, coma or death too.

When taking corticosteroids, it makes sense to speak to your doctor once before introducing any such changes to the dosing schedule.

5. Estrogen

Circulating estrogen can boost the cortisol level and this can be highly caused by pregnancy and estrogen therapy. Higher circulation of estrogen is the biggest cause of high cortisol levels, especially in women.

Visit The Doctor

Do you happen to experience high cortisol? it is imperative to meet your doctor to get the blood tests done. High cortisol causes signs and symptoms that may arise through other diseases too so it’s essential to know what exactly is behind those symptoms.

To know the root cause, your doctor may recommend these tests:

  • Cortisol Urine and Blood Tests: These tests assess the level of cortisol in your urine and blood as well. The blood test uses a blood sample drawn from a vein. To check your urine, a 24-hour urinary free cortisol excretion test is used. To check cortisol levels, blood and urine samples are analyzed in the laboratory by a doctor.
  • Imaging Tests: MRI or CT scans might be used to get images of your pituitary gland and adrenal glands to check for tumors or any other complications.
  • Cortisol Saliva Tests: This test is used to find out Cushing syndrome. A saliva sample took in the night is scrutinized to see if your cortisol level is high. Usually, cortisol level fluctuates as in rises and fall in the day and abruptly drop at night without Cushing syndrome. High cortisol levels at night would show that you may have Cushing syndrome at night. 

Unmanaged cortisol levels can have severe repercussions on your health. If left untreated, a high cortisol level can increase your risk of serious health ailments including – osteoporosis, psychiatric disorders, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.  

How To Lower Your High Cortisol Level

There are a few lifestyle changes you can make to combat your cortisol or stress level and live a happy life:

  • Engage in an activity you love doing every day like dancing or listening to music.
  • Connect with your closed ones because a strong social support system is essential for your mental health.
  • Do your best to get at least 7 hours of sleep every day.
  • Eat a healthy diet like lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and oily fish.
  • Practice daily meditation or yoga to calm your mind and keep at ease.

In A Nutshell

Each one of us experiences high cortisol at some point or another. The way the body reacts is its natural way to deal with possible dangers deteriorating your health. However, having high cortisol over a large span of time can have adverse effects on your wellness.

Thus, it is best to see the doctor in advance before you face any life-threatening scenario or you can even consider a cortisol EIA kit to measure the cortisol level and get it back to a normal level quickly.

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