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A cortisol test measures the level
hormone cortisol in a 24-hour sample of urine. The
cortisol level may show problems with the
adrenal glands or the
pituitary gland. Cortisol is made by the
adrenal glands. Cortisol levels get higher when the
pituitary gland releases adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).
Cortisol has many functions. It helps the body use sugar (glucose) and
fat for energy (metabolism). It helps the body manage stress.
Cortisol levels can be affected by many things, such as physical or
emotional stress, strenuous activity, infection, or injury.
Normally, cortisol levels rise during the early morning hours and are
highest about 7 a.m. They drop very low in the evening and during the early
phase of sleep. But if you sleep during the day and are up at night, this
pattern may be reversed. If you do not have this daily change in cortisol levels, you may have overactive adrenal glands.
Cortisol levels vary widely throughout the day, so you collect urine over 24 hours for this test.
cortisol test is done to find problems of the
pituitary gland or adrenal glands, such as making too much hormone.
You may be asked to avoid strenuous
physical activity the day before the test.
Be sure to
drink enough fluids during the 24-hour urine test. This prevents
Many medicines may change the
results of this test. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the
nonprescription and prescription medicines you take.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need
for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To
help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form (What is a PDF document?).
This test does not cause any pain.
Collecting a 24-hour urine sample does not cause problems.
A cortisol test measures the level
hormone cortisol in a 24-hour sample of urine.
These numbers are just a guide. The range for "normal" varies from lab to lab. Your lab may have a different range. Your lab report should show what range your lab uses for "normal." Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. So a number that is outside the normal range here may still be normal for you.
Less than 100
micrograms (mcg) or less than 276
5-55 mcg or 14-152
2-27 mcg or 5-75 nmol
High values of cortisol may be caused by:
You may not be able to have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if:
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
Other Works Consulted
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders. Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology
Current as ofMay 3, 2017
Current as of:
May 3, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology
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Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
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