If you are not aware of managing high cortisol symptoms, you need to read this post until the end with the utmost attention. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that serves the function of regulating a wide range of processes throughout the body. The list includes metabolism and immune response. It serves a vital role in helping the body respond to stress. However, an increased level of cortisol can cause several health issues. Therefore, you need to monitor the status of cortisol in your body. In this post, we will study the high cortisol symptoms and effective ways to manage them. Let’s start! 

About Cortisol: Overview

Cortisol is also termed as the stress hormone. It plays a significant role in managing the body’s stress response. However, cortisol is much more than just managing stress. 

The steroid hormone is created in the adrenal gland. A significant portion of cells in our bodies have cortisol receptors that use cortisol for a wide range of functions, including: 

  • Regulation of blood sugar 
  • Metabolism regulation
  • Regulation of inflammation
  • Memory formulation

Cortisol is vital for your good health, but an excessive level can cause havoc on your body and give rise to several unwanted symptoms.

What Manages The Cortisol Level In Body?

Blood levels of cortisol vary throughout the day but generally are higher in the morning when you wake up and fall throughout the day. This bodily process is known as diurnal rhythm. People working at night can get this pattern reversed. You can conclude that cortisol release is related to daily activity patterns. Besides, in response to stress, more cortisol is released so that the body can respond appropriately. 

Three main inter-communicating regions of the body mainly manage the high cortisol symptoms. These are: 

  • Hypothalamus in the brain
  • Adrenal gland
  • Pituitary gland
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What Are the Symptoms of High Cortisol?

High cortisol can cause multifaceted symptoms in different parts of your body. These high cortisol symptoms may vary on the basis of the possible reason that is causing excessive cortisol secretion. The common symptoms of the high-cortisol can include these indications: 

  • Weight gain is one of the most common symptoms of high cortisol levels, where the gain mainly occurs around the midsection and upper back.
  • Thinning of the skin. 
  • Rounding of the face and double chin.
  • Acne
  • Easy bruising
  • Muscle weakness
  • Severe fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • High blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Flushed face
  • Slowed healing

What Does a High Cortisol Level Mean?

Increased levels of cortisol is a condition which is known as Cushing syndrome. This condition can have multi-pronged effects on your body. The cortisol levels are managed by the inter-communicating regions of the body. There can be a number of factors, including your day-to-day routine, that can promote the high cortisol symptoms. Taking high doses of corticosteroids is also one of the main reasons behind this condition. The apparent signs of Cushing syndrome can include: 

  • thinning skin
  • fatty deposits on the face, midsection, or between the shoulders
  • weight gain
  • slow-healing injuries
  • purple stretch marks

Factors That Affect The Level Of Cortisol

There are multitudinous factors that can affect the levels of cortisol in the body: 


Excessive stress can be one of the main reasons behind the increased levels of cortisol. Stress evokes a combination of signals from both nerves and hormones. These signals make your adrenal gland release the hormone (cortisol and adrenaline). The release of the hormones can increase your heart rate and energy as a part of the immune response. 

Pituitary gland issues

The pituitary gland is a small organ located at the base of your brain. It controls the secretion of various hormones. Troubles with the pituitary gland can make it produce an excessive or reduced level of the adrenocorticotropic hormone. It is the hormone that promotes the adrenal gland to release cortisol. There are numerous pituitary conditions that can give rise to high cortisol levels.

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Adrenal Gland Tumors

The adrenal gland is an organ on the top of each kidney. Cancer in the adrenal gland can be both cancerous and non-cancerous. Moreover, the size of the tumors can also vary in different cases. In both cases, the gland releases high levels of hormones, including cortisol. This secretion can promote high cortisol symptoms. Besides, the overgrown size of the tumor can put pressure on the neighboring organs and cause severe pain in your abdomen. 

Medication Side Effects

The high cortisol symptoms can also be a result of the medication side effects. For instance, the intake of oral contraceptives increase level of cortisol in the blood. Corticosteroid medications can help in various body ailments such as arthritis, asthma, and certain cancers. If you take these medications at a high-level for a longer period, then they can result in increased levels of cortisol. 

The intake of steroid medications should never be stopped without gradual tapering. If you stop them all of a sudden, then your cortisol level can be decreased, which is also a terrible condition of the body. The reduced levels of cortisol can promote low blood pressure and blood sugar, even coma and death.


The circulation of Estrogen Tablet can also promote the high cortisol symptoms in your blood. Estrogen therapy and pregnancy are some of the main conditions that can bring forth the high cortisol level in women. 

The Bottom Line

High cortisol level is a common condition that can vary from time to time. It is a body’s way to fight against potential threats and dangers. However, when the level of the cortisol hormone increases for an extended period of time, it can impose some lasting adverse effects on your health. 

If you are feeling the high cortisol symptoms described in the post, then you need to consult your doctor. In the first place, you will be asked for a blood test to check the cortisol level. Based on the blood test report, your doctor will assist you in alleviating these symptoms. Under an expert’s assistance, you can retail the normal levels of the cortisol hormone in your blood. If you loved reading this post and want more from us, pay a visit to our blog section.