5 Telltale Symptoms of High Cortisol Levels

5 Telltale Symptoms of High Cortisol Levels

Created On
Aug 10 2022
Last Updated
Mar 24 2024

When cortisol levels rise above normal levels, they can cause unpleasant symptoms. Here are five symptoms of high cortisol levels you should look out for.


Cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone, has a big impact on our health. When levels are normal, cortisol can improve our response to stress and keep other bodily functions in check. But when levels rise above normal, they can cause uncomfortable high cortisol symptoms that are no fun to deal with.

To help you understand what's normal and what's not when it comes to cortisol, here's a brief overview of this essential hormone and telltale symptoms of high cortisol levels to watch out for.

What Is Cortisol?

Cortisol is a glucocorticoid (steroid) hormone that's produced by your adrenal glands. Cortisol plays an important role in controlling stress, metabolism, blood pressure, blood sugar, and more.

Symptoms of High Cortisol

While cortisol is a natural and necessary hormone, like all good things, too much of it can be harmful. Here are five telltale symptoms of cortisol levels that are out of whack.

Muscle Weakness/Pain

Over time, elevated cortisol levels will raise prolactin levels, which will increase your sensitivity to pain. This can lead to weak and achy muscles.

High Blood Sugar

Too much cortisol will raise your blood sugar, which can make you crave unhealthy foods and potentially result in type 2 diabetes.

Weight Gain

If you've put on a few pounds despite eating well and exercising, your cortisol levels could be the culprit. Usually, weight gain caused by high cortisol manifests in the lower stomach and face.


Not sleeping great? Your cortisol levels are supposed to drop around bedtime, but if yours are elevated, the stress you feel as a result may keep you awake.

Gut Problems

High cortisol levels can irritate your gut, causing nausea, heartburn, cramps, and other unpleasant symptoms.

How To Test for High Cortisol

If you think you have high cortisol, you can use a blood, urine, or saliva test to check your levels. You can ask your primary care doctor to administer a test or order a test to take at home.

Want to test your cortisol levels at home? RxHomeTest's 24-hour saliva cortisol test kits make home testing easy. Just place an order, collect your samples, and ship them out to our lab for free. Our team will review your results and send you a comprehensive report in less than a week. Don't wait to test your cortisol levels. If you're worried something is off, take control of your health and test today!


Order a 24-hour cortisol test kit.

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