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Cortisol in Blood

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Having physical or emotional stress.
  • Being pregnant. This can cause urine cortisol levels to be high.
  • Having low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
  • Eating, drinking, or exercising before the test.
  • Taking medicines, such as birth control pills, estrogen, amphetamines, or corticosteroids.
  • Having a radioactive scan within 1 week of a cortisol test.

What To Think About

  • A 24-hour urine test is used more often than a cortisol blood test to diagnose Cushing's syndrome. To learn more about cortisol in urine, see the topic Cortisol in Urine.
  • Other tests that can help determine if the pituitary gland or adrenal glands are functioning properly include the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation test and dexamethasone suppression tests. The ACTH stimulation test may be done when Addison's disease is suspected.

To learn more, see:

Citations

  1. Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerAlan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014

1 | 2 | 3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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