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Know more about the cortisol test including the importance & normal levels of cortisol hormone
Cortisol test

The cortisol test is a simple test ordered by your physician to measure the level of cortisol in the blood, urine, or saliva. Cortisol is a hormone that is responsible for the response to stress and threat. It also plays a major role in various body functions such as fighting against infection and regulating blood sugar and metabolism.

The cortisol blood test is the most common way to measure the production of cortisol hormone. The disorders caused by high or low cortisol levels can lead to serious health issues if not treated. So, we highly recommend you to get tested for cortisol levels if you experience any of the symptoms that are caused by abnormal cortisol levels.

The article below covers all the significant topics related to the cortisol test like the cortisol test cost, normal cortisol levels, procedure, cortisol saliva home test kit, preparation, risks, and how to get tested for a cortisol test.

For our readers, who are very much interested in knowing the cortisol test cost beforehand, we would like to begin with that section.

How much does the cortisol test cost?

Cortisol test cost ranges between $52 and $109 in different labs and facilities across the U.S. The cost of cortisol test also depends on your choice of visiting the nearest lab or getting tested at home using the cortisol saliva home test kit. We have shortlisted three of the best options to get tested for cortisol across the US.

Our below mentioned cortisol testing providers do not accept any health insurance policy but, on request, they can provide the itemized receipt which is necessary for insurance reimbursement purposes.

Cortisol test cost with insurance

Many health insurance policies in the U.S. cover the cost of the cortisol test when it is medically necessary. However, the coverage offered by private health insurance companies and national health insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid varies widely. So we recommend you to check the coverage of your health insurance plan with the insurance company before getting tested for cortisol levels.

Our cortisol testing providers do not accept any kind of health insurance plan. But, on request, they can provide you with an itemized receipt containing all the details like the name and code of the test, and CPT code which is necessary for insurance reimbursement purposes.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. There are two adrenal glands that are small and located on the top of each kidney. Cortisol is the main hormone responsible for the response to stress and threat. So, it is also known as the “stress hormone”. Whenever you experience something that your body perceives as a threat, your brain releases a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This hormone triggers the adrenal gland to release cortisol.

In addition to responding to stress, cortisol hormone is also responsible for various other body functions like fighting against infection, maintaining blood pressure, regulating the blood sugar levels, and regulating the metabolism.

Know more about the cortisol hormone and the importance of cortisol hormone
Cortisol Hormone

Why is a cortisol test done?

The cortisol test is done to measure the levels of cortisol hormone. This test helps to diagnose the disorders in the adrenal glands and as a way to assess the functioning of the adrenal glands and the pituitary gland. The disorders in the adrenal glands include Cushing’s syndrome (a condition caused by high cortisol levels) and Addison’s disease (a condition caused by low cortisol levels).

Your physician will order a cortisol test if you experience the following symptoms that are caused by high and low cortisol levels.

High cortisol levels symptoms

  • Obesity (especially in the trunk)
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fragile skin
  • Purple stretch marks on the abdomen
  • Osteoporosis (low bone density)

Symptoms of low cortisol levels

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Dark patches of skin
  • Low blood pressure
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of body hair

Sometimes, your physician will also order a cortisol test when you experience the following symptoms of an adrenal crisis ( a fatal condition that occurs when the cortisol levels are extremely low.

  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dehydration
  • Sudden and severe pain in the abdomen, legs, or lower back
  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea

The cortisol test is also ordered to monitor the effectiveness of ongoing treatment for Cushing’s syndrome or Addison’s disease.

Symptoms of high and low cortisol levels
Symptoms of high and low cortisol levels

Normal levels of cortisol

Generally, the cortisol levels are high after waking and low at bedtime. The normal cortisol levels might vary between the labs. However, the standard range of cortisol levels in a blood sample taken between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. is between 6 and 23 mcg/dl (micrograms per deciliter).

How is the cortisol test done?

The cortisol test can be done using the blood sample or the sample of saliva.

1. Cortisol blood test

During this test, a lab technician or a phlebotomist will cleanse the area to be injected with a disinfectant liquid and wrap an elastic band around the upper arm to make the vein visible and swell with blood. He/she then injects a needle to draw a sample of blood and collects the sample in a test tube. After the blood is drawn, he/she will ask you to apply pressure on the injected area with a band-aid or a cotton ball to stop bleeding. The collected blood sample is then sent to the lab for further testing.

It takes less than 5 to 10 minutes to perform this test.

2. Cortisol saliva home test kit

Saliva test kits are mostly preferred by the people who do not have time to visit the lab or not comfortable taking the test at a commonplace. One of our cortisol testing providers offers the cortisol saliva home test kit. You can order the test kit online and take the sample of your saliva immediately after waking up by reading the instructions carefully mentioned in the kit. Then post the saliva sample back to the given address. The results will be confidentially emailed to you within 2 weeks depending upon the receipt of the sample by the lab.

Is there any preparation required before the test?

There is no special preparation required for the cortisol blood test or saliva test. There is no constraint on the diet. But, your physician may ask you to stop certain medications that contain estrogen and androgen, and synthetic glucocorticoids such as prednisone, and phenytoin. Because these drugs and medications can influence the cortisol levels and result in an inaccurate diagnosis.

Are there any risks in the test?

There are no possible risks or complications in taking the cortisol saliva test. When the blood sample is drawn, you might feel dizziness, slight pain, bruise or redness in the injected area for a very little period. If you have any abnormal bleeding in the injected area, inform your physician immediately.

What does the test result mean?

If the cortisol levels are higher than normal, it indicates the possibility of Cushing’s syndrome that might be caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland or adrenal gland or in the other part of the body that is involved in producing cortisol.

If the cortisol levels are lower than normal, it indicates the possibility of Addison’s disease or hypopituitarism ( a condition in which the pituitary gland fails to function properly).

How to treat high and low cortisol levels?

Your physician will prescribe some medications and supplements to increase or lower the cortisol levels. Naturally, a proper combination of diet and physical exercise, and a healthy lifestyle can also help to maintain the normal cortisol levels.

If appropriate and necessary, your physician might order imaging tests such as MRI and CT scans to look at your pituitary and adrenal glands.

Provider Locations

The cortisol test can be done in any of the following locations across the U.S. either by visiting the nearest lab or getting tested at home using the saliva test kit. To know the cortisol test cost, refer to the first section of the article.

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Frequently Asked Questions

Will insurance cover my testing cost?

No, insurance will not be covered in the billing. However, they will provide you a receipt for insurance reimbursement purposes.

How should I book my appointment?

You can choose the most suitable provider from above and make an appointment by following the instructions mentioned by them.

Can I cancel my lab test order?

Yes, you can cancel your lab test order anytime before your testing. A refund will be initiated after deducting the cancellation fee. However, cancellation is at the discretion of the provider.

Do the providers offer result interpretations?

Yes, a few providers may provide doctor consultation who will take you through the results and provide clarification if needed.

How do I receive my report?

To ensure your privacy, the test report will be mailed to you by the provider.

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Cortisol Test
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