Ask April- What is High Cortisol?

Welcome to Ask April, a no-nonsense advice column focusing on what it is you can do to correct things that need correcting.  While we all know much in life is out of our control, and sometimes, our reaction is all we CAN control, we really do have a lot of personal power, thankfully. Our will is just as important as the wills of others around us, and while we need to be considerate, we also need to make sure others are equally considerate of us. It is my hope that when you write in to me, asking advice that I can help you make a good decision that somehow improves whatever situation you’ve found yourself in. As with anything I share, I recommend people don’t automatically take my word for anything, but include my advice in with the rest of the things that help them make a decision. I wish you well. Read on.

Dear April,

I was recently told by my doctor I have elevated cortisol levels. I read a little about it, and will be going to see the doctor for more details. In the meantime, what do you know about it? What could be causing this to happen?

Going to Get Better

 

Dear Going to Get Better,

First and foremost, I am really glad you are planning to go see your doctor about it.  I know we live in a day when we can Google whatever ails us, but we have to have a prescription from the professionals.

So, you are taking the best first step to recovery.

The cause could be elevated stress, or an issue with your pituitary or adrenal gland. You may even have a tumor on the pituitary gland. Testing will find out what is causing this.

You and your doctor can do some testing to check adrenal and pituitary glands.

Cortisol, itself helps the body absorb sugars and fats to convert them to energy. It helps control blood pressure and regulates development of the fetus during pregnancy.  It is also released as a natural reaction to stress. So prolonged periods of stress can result in elevated levels of cortisol.

When cortisol is too high, it can lead to fatigue, and decreased libido. It can also cause the woman’s minstrel cycle to be off, and it can cause depression and anxiety. Your immune system can be weakened, and it may take wounds longer to heal.

In worse cases, Cushing’s Syndrome can develop, which is characterized by weight gain in the face, chest, and belly. Blood pressure issues, mood changes, and osteoporosis can also happen.

The sooner you can get to the doctor, the sooner you can work with him, or her to get a good plan of care started.

Good luck!

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