High cortisol? Only 18, EXTEEMELY SCARED

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Hi all, sorry for long story but here goes.

I've had an incredibly rough few years - aunt committed suicide, mother and father separated, mother and uncle extremely depressed and bi polar and I constantly worry about making sure everyone's okay.

I recently went to my doctor about small stretch marks I had to see if he could recommend a cream. I am not over weight and blood pressure is good. No protein in my urine either. Then my granny died and her dog and I had school exams. He tested my cortisol and my result was 928. I know this is high but I am so scared. Do you think I have cushings. I am really freaked out I'm only 18! The idea of Cushing really really terrifies me. Please help interpret these results. I'm also on the contraceptive pill and admittedly my diet isn't superb

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  • Posted

    Hi Melissa

    For all of us it sometimes seems that it never rains but it pours but in your case you seem to have got hail, sleet and ice-storm as well!

    Ok, first off, there are a few no-panic reasons for high cortisol.

    1) Your body is supposed to produce cortisol in response to stress. What I mean here is physical stress - inflamation, accidents and the like. There isn't really a hormone to help you cope with heavy psychological stress like you've got but your body does the nearest available => cortisol. As you know, you can have too much of a good thing. So if this is the cause [your numbers seem too high?], then your own health and sanity demands that you force yourself to step back, I know that you won't be able to do this re your mum but your uncle?

    2) "Combined" contraceptive pills can cause "Pseudo-Cushing's syndrome" [see Wikipedia]. Not by itself enough to account for your numbers but added to #1, it might be. Your GP should be able to tell you which kind you are on and suggest an alternative if it is relevant.

    Cushings is very very rare but if you really do have it, nowadays it is not a big drama. The operation to remove the tumour from your pituitary is straightforward - it is easily accessed up your nose with a camera and slim instruments - three or four days to recover. NB almost all putuitary tumours ["adenomas"] are benign and it is not  a brain tumour (even though it is in your skull). Google "Pituitary Foundation" for lots more information and support in the UK.

    Your diet hasn't caused this but it could be the other way round. With all that stress, you probably don't feel up to making an effort. But you totally need to get your physical health up to scratch to be able to cope.

    I hope this helps.

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  • Posted

    Hi Melissa,

    I'm  not a doc, just someone who has had a pituitary tumour removed [secondary adisson's] and like I said it was no biggie even though I expected the worst beforehand. My way of dealing with this sort of news is to find out everything I can about it, others differ.

    So I really have no idea whether your numbers are high or not. Your doc should really tell you that. Be aware that Cushings is very rare [one case per million people per year]  so that should be your last suspicion, not your first.  Wikipedia says that 140-730 is the normal range - but doesn't say what level suggests pathology rather than stress,

    Have you been referred to a specialist (endocrinologist)? Your GP can expect to see on average just one case of pituitary disease in a career so don't be surprised if they come across as unconfident! So you really need an endo to tell you for sure.

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