Is my Cortisol level low?

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I have been battling with living a normal life for the past 5 years and actually getting to the root cause of my problem hasn't been forthcoming. I've done a series of tests but most were normal except for two: Cortisol and Calcium. My cortisol level was 160.68 which is lower than the reference range of 171 - 536 but when i showed the doctor, he said it wasn't low enough for me to worry about.

What do you guys think? This thing has worn me out totally. I can't function in my daily routines and i need answers.

 

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  • Posted

    This isn't a medical opinion, but personal experience. I think the ranges doctors usually use aren't sensitive enough. For instance the doctor said that all of my test results were normal, including my heart and liver but when a Naturopath in Harley St tested me with a Vega machine he said that my heart and liver weren't in a good condition at all, which made more sense.

    I recently found out that my cortisol levels are high so I'm self-treating accordingly. I think it's important for you to know for sure so you'll know which foods and supplements etc to take or avoid.

    Perhaps someone knows of a good test. I do but I can't post the name of the site here. You could message me.

     

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  • Posted

    Hi,

    I'm no expert on the subject as I was just diagnosed 6 months ago with adrenal insufficiency. I found an awesome support group on Facebook and there are some amazingly sharp peers in there. They've helped me tremendously. If you're in FB, feel free to send me a PM and I will get you the full name. There are several and while I'm sure other groups are good I can only say for sure that the one I'm in is awesome.

    My cortisol runs low due to my pituitary not producing ACTH at the right levels. I have secondary adrenal insufficiency. As a result of this problem, I also learned I have hypothyroidism. That alone is enough to make you have all sorts of symptoms.

    You have to be your own advocate these days so please don't be shy by pushing your doctor (respectfully of course) or by seeking a second opinion. You're health is nothing to mess with an if you do have adrenal insufficiency, primary or secondary, it's nothing to mess with and can become critical.

    Best of luck,

    Debie Brethauer

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  • Posted

    If that was a 9am cortisol, the guidelines say between 100-400 requires an ACTH stimulation test to rule out adrenal problems and even if it's over 400, if the patient is acutely unwell or works shifts.

    https://cks.nice.org.uk/addisons-disease#!diagnosissub:2

    If it's below 100 that's considered critical and needs an urgent referral or even hospital admission.

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    • Posted

      Yes, it was a 9am cortisol. The range on my test is 171 - 536. I really don't know why it's different. But since my result is 160 for this range, is it possible that it is below 100 when converted to the 100-400 range?

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    • Posted

      I'm not a doctor but as I understand it the ranges are just set by measuring "healthy" people (I don't know where they find people with no health problems whatsoever!), so they do vary from area to area.

      The cortisol measurement is what it is, there's no conversion necessary. It's not below 100 so you're not in the critical range but it is rather low and in the range where the guidelines say you should be referred to an endocrinologist for the ACTH stimulation test, so I'd recommend you ask your GP to do that.

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    • Posted

      Do you know how that test works David? It's just that I was tested privately and my cortisol levels are high and strange because it starts off low and gets higher and higher throughout the day. I'm wondering whether I should show my doctor the results. 

      He's done the usual range of blood tests and hasn't found anything, except for a high white blood cell count.

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    • Posted

      If you're asking how the ACTH stimulation test works, they measure your cortisol to establish a base level, then inject you with a drug that mimics ACTH (which I think is produced by your pituitary gland and in turn causes your adrenal glands to produce cortisol) and then they monitor your cortisol level to see whether it's increasing as it should do in response to the injection.

      I'm not sure what private test you had done as from what I've been told the cortisol is normally just done as a fasting 9am test. This is because it's highest first thing in the morning and decreases throughout the day. So it's rather strange that the test you had showed it going up instead of down. I'd certainly show your doctor the results and ask him about this.

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