Thyroid UK
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Interpreting cortisol results

I'm really quite worried and angry to be honest my doctor has scared me instead of reassuring me. I did fasting blood tests at 8.30 and my cortisol came back at 928, what is this like? Bearing in mind I am a natural worrier/stressor and my granny and dog had just died a few weeks before the test and I had school exams. I am also on the contraceptive pill and admittedly don't have a good diet. I simply went to the doctor over small stretch marks and now I'm freaking out. I don't have any other symptoms really. Someone please help!

9 Replies

Your doctor gave you the cortisol test because stretch marks are a sign of Cushing's Syndrome or Cushing's Disease. And these both cause excess cortisol. I don't think your doctor can reassure you before he knows what is wrong with you (if anything).

There is also something called Pseudo-Cushing's Syndrome which is caused by oestrogen levels having an indirect effect on total cortisol :

Determining whether you actually have any of these problems will almost certainly involve you having more tests, but what those tests will involve, I couldn't say.

You can read about testing for Cushing's and other hormone tests in this document - do a search for the word Cushing and/or the word cortisol and/or the word oestrogen :

If/when you get tests you'll be able to read up about them in that document, will know what to expect and will know how to prepare e.g. whether you should fast or not, for example.

Incidentally, being a natural worrier and stressed person could well be because your cortisol levels are high. Once the cause of your problem is found and (hopefully) fixed and your cortisol levels are lower you'll probably feel a whole lot better and less stressed and far more laid back.

My condolences on the deaths of your grandmother and your dog. :(


Thank you so much, I am just very scared cause I have read about cushings and it seems incredibly scary


You could try and find forums for people with Cushing's so that you can ask questions. You may have to try a few before you find an active one. It would be worth checking Facebook Groups or try American forums (but watch out for people quoting test results in units of measurement that are different from your test results).

There may well be diets you can try, supplements that help...

I had gynaecological surgery when I was in my early teens. After it, I developed all the signs of Cushing's including loads of stretch marks. With hindsight I now suspect the problem was Pseudo-Cushing's caused by problems with my oestrogen levels, but I have no way of proving or disproving that. I was also under a lot of stress which would have bumped up my cortisol and adrenaline levels. The symptoms did ease off over the latter part of my teens and during my 20s.

In recent years (I'm now in my 50s) I did a couple of adrenal stress profiles (from Genova Diagnostics), saliva tests which measure free cortisol. My levels were high (over the range). I tried lots of different supplements which apparently help some people to reduce their cortisol levels. It wasn't until the end of last year that I found one that worked for me and that was Holy Basil.

I feel much less stressed, most of the time. I've also managed to raise my thyroid meds higher and eliminated some of my hypo symptoms as a result. (High or low cortisol often make it hard for people to take sufficient thyroid meds to eliminate hypo symptoms.)

The whole point of my personal anecdotes above is really just to point out that if you don't have Cushing's then there are other possibilities open to you to reduce your cortisol. So don't despair. Hopefully your doctor will do something useful about investigating your cortisol levels. If he doesn't you need to know why. But if you are told that your cortisol is not high enough to cause concern, then with some research you may well be able to help yourself a lot without the help of doctors.



Sort to hear of your bereavements.

Well those results will scare you- they are as much use as a chocolate fire guard. I agree with human bean you should have been tested for an adrenal stress profile which measure cortisol and dhea( even more important and more likely life threatening is Addisons- low dhea)

The idea is to measure both over a 24 hour time period. A normal result should show a clear diurnal variation with within range but higher levels of both in the morning and declining thro the day - the lowest at midnight. I when there is unremitting stress which could be infectious, nutritional, allergic, toxic or physical/ mental stress and low thyroid etc the gland starts to become exhausted.All well documented by physiologist Dr Hans Selye.

Most gps pick up on cortisol but if you read www. and search adrenal stress you will see there are only so many combinations you can have. But you need both testing. Low dhea affects cortisol balance- which is easily fixed and you need to know when in the day or night your cortisol is high. It could be something as easy as hypoglycaemia.( on the web page)

Higher is more difficult to control but in the meantime you need the range and what that figure actually is. I've seen many test results but not in that format.

Yes holy basil is v good and tulsi tea won't harm you but I'd take nothing until you know more.

Just a suggestion but diet vitamin and thyroid testing is key. I'd suggest you ask for a more detailed stress profile test. Happy to help more when you know specifics. If you have time for Pilates or meditation it's helpful.

Good luck I hope you get the answers you need.


I meant sorry.

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Just being helpful, you can actually edit your own posts:


Thanks- I have an I phone issue.


Hi try not to be too concerned. My daughter had a raised cortisol test think was around 860. We saw and endocrinologist who reassured us that the contraceptive pill increases the reading due to one or other binding to each other. She had a 24 hour utine cortisol test performed and it wasn't even half way in the range and towards the low end. So try not to stress too much. She too has stretch marks but must be completely unrelated. Try not to worry and perhaps request a 24 hour urine test which should give a more realistic result for people on the contraceptive pill.


Hi thanks a milllion this ha defianately helped me. I really do believe it's from the pill and my stretch marks are just from growth spurts

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