Cortisol in Urine
How It Is Done
24 hour urine
- You start collecting your urine in the morning.
When you first get up, empty your bladder but do not save this urine. Write
down the time that you urinated to mark the beginning of your 24-hour
- For the next 24 hours, collect all your urine.
Your doctor or lab will usually provide you with a large container that holds
about 1 gal (4 L). The
container has a small amount of preservative in it. Urinate into a small, clean
container and then pour the urine into the large container. Do not touch the
inside of the container with your fingers.
- Keep the large container
in the refrigerator for the 24 hours.
- Empty your bladder for the
final time at or just before the end of the 24-hour period. Add this urine to
the large container and record the time.
- Do not get toilet paper,
pubic hair, stool (feces), menstrual blood, or other foreign matter in the
How It Feels
There is no pain while collecting a
24-hour urine sample.
There is no chance for problems while collecting
a 24-hour urine sample.
A cortisol test is done to measure the
level of the
hormone cortisol in a 24-hour sample of urine.
The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
Cortisol level in a 24-hour urine sample
Less than 100
micrograms (mcg) or less than 276
5–55 mcg or 14–152
2–27 mcg or 5–75 nmol
- One cause of Cushing's syndrome is
Cushing's disease, a condition caused by a
noncancerous tumor of the pituitary gland (adenoma). An adenoma causes the
pituitary gland to make too much of the hormone
adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which in turn
causes the adrenal glands to make too much cortisol.
- ACTH can be
made by other conditions, such as cancer of the lung. This high ACTH level
causes the adrenal glands to make more cortisol.
- The adrenal gland
can develop tumors (benign or cancerous) that make cortisol and cause Cushing's
- A high blood cortisol level can be caused by severe
liver or kidney disease,
- Conditions such as recent
surgery, illness, injury, or whole body infection (sepsis) can cause high cortisol levels.