What Are the Treatments for High Cortisol Levels?

Written by shayla perkins
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What Are the Treatments for High Cortisol Levels?
Depression and mood instability is a common symptom of high cortisol levels. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Nicole Makauskas)

Cortisone, also known as the stress hormone, is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the adrenal cortex of the adrenal gland stimulated by the release of ATCH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) by the pituitary gland. At normal levels, cortisol helps to maintain and restore homeostasis to various body systems. Overproduction of cortisol (hypercortisolism) is known as Cushing's syndrome. Treatment of Cushing's syndrome varies according to cause and form of the condition.

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Causes of High Cortisol Levels

Increased cortisol levels result from treating patients with glucocorticoid drugs, high caffeine intake, or development of cancerous and benign tumors on pituitary and adrenal glands, stimulating high production of ACTH and cortisol.

What Are the Treatments for High Cortisol Levels?
High caffeine intake can stimulate the overproduction of cortisol. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Klaus Post)

Symptoms

Some symptoms of Cushing's syndrome include rapid weight gain in the face and trunk, easy bruising due to thinning skin, severe fatigue, muscle weakness, a fatty hump between shoulders (buffalo hump), mental instability, high blood pressure, high glucose, anxiety, and depression.

What Are the Treatments for High Cortisol Levels?
Excessive weight gain in the face and trunk is a common symptom of Cushing's syndrome. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Mike Baird)

Glucocorticoid Drugs/Caffeine

High cortisol levels resulting from use of glucocorticoid hormones to treat other conditions is treated by gradually reducing the level of hormone treatments. High cortisol levels from high caffeine intake is treated by reducing caffeine usage. Cortisol-inhibiting drugs may also be administered to help regain normal cortisol levels.

Pituitary Adenomas

Pituitary adenomas are noncancerous tumors of the pituitary gland. Treatment for this condition is the surgical removal of the tumors (transsphenoidal adenomectomy) or radiation therapy.

Ectopic ATCH Syndrome

Ectopic ATCH Syndrome is characterized by benign or cancerous tumors outside the pituitary gland resulting in overproduction of ATCH. It often develops as a secondary condition to lung cancer. Treatment includes surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or cortisol-inhibiting drug therapy.

What Are the Treatments for High Cortisol Levels?
Ectopic ATCH Syndrome often develops as a secondary condition to lung cancer. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Andréia Bohner)

Adrenal Tumors

Benign and cancerous adrenal tumors result in an abnormality of the adrenal glands inducing an overproduction of ATCH. Treatment for this condition is the surgical removal of the adrenal glands.

What Are the Treatments for High Cortisol Levels?
Surgical removal of adrenal glands is a treatment for Cushing's resulting from adrenal tumors. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Michael (a.k.a. moik) McCullough)

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