Low cortisol levels due to steroids

Cortisol levels normally fluctuate throughout the day and night in a circadian rhythm that peaks at about 8 AM and reaches it lowest around 4 AM. While it is vital to health for the adrenals to secret more cortisol in response to stress, it is also very important that bodily functions and cortisol levels return to normal following a stressful event. Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the stress response is activated so often that the body does not always have a chance to return to normal.* This can lead to health problems resulting from too much circulating cortisol and/or from too little cortisol if the adrenal glands become chronically fatigued (adrenal fatigue).

The secretion of cortisol is mainly controlled by three inter-communicating regions of the body, the hypothalamus in the brain, the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland . This is called the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. When cortisol levels in the blood are low, a group of cells in a region of the brain called the hypothalamus releases corticotrophin-releasing hormone , which causes the pituitary gland to secrete another hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone , into the bloodstream. High levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone are detected in the adrenal glands and stimulate the secretion of cortisol, causing blood levels of cortisol to rise. As the cortisol levels rise, they start to block the release of corticotrophin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus and adrenocorticotropic hormone from the pituitary. As a result the adrenocorticotropic hormone levels start to drop, which then leads to a drop in cortisol levels. This is called a negative feedback loop.

'Thinning' of the bones (osteoporosis) may be more common in people with Addison's disease compared to the general population. Osteoporosis mainly affects older people, in particular women who are past the menopause. There is much that can be done throughout your life to help prevent the development of osteoporosis or to minimise its severity if it develops when you are older. For example, regular exercise, a good diet and not smoking will all help. Where necessary, medication may be advised if bone 'thinning' is detected. A special type of scan that measures bone density is used to detect osteoporosis. See separate leaflet called Osteoporosis for more details .

Descriptions of clinical laboratory tests were originally prepared for use on  Lab Tests Online , an award-winning patient education website on clinical laboratory testing. Lab Tests Online is produced by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), a global scientific and medical professional organization dedicated to clinical laboratory science and its application to healthcare. The Lab Tests Online website is developed in collaboration with other laboratory professional societies and is funded in part through corporate sponsorships.



1. Stress

Do you feel stressed out? Excessive stress can wreck havoc on your energy levels. The toxic word here is excessive. Stress is good for us to a certain degree. When it becomes excessive, it can zap away your energy meter.


2. Emotional State


Do you feel depressed? Do you worry a lot? Depression and worrying a lot are just two of the many emotional states which can suck the life force out of you.


3. Poor diet

If you don’t have enough nutrients and calories in your diet, you can experience low energy levels because your body doesn’t have the tools to keep functioning optimally.


4. Lack of Sleep

You need sleep to replenish your energy levels. During sleep, your body shuts down and goes into hibernation mode. It gives your body a rest from all the basic functions you deal with when you’re awake and time to repair. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep at night.


Low cortisol levels due to steroids

low cortisol levels due to steroids

Descriptions of clinical laboratory tests were originally prepared for use on  Lab Tests Online , an award-winning patient education website on clinical laboratory testing. Lab Tests Online is produced by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), a global scientific and medical professional organization dedicated to clinical laboratory science and its application to healthcare. The Lab Tests Online website is developed in collaboration with other laboratory professional societies and is funded in part through corporate sponsorships.

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