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Cortisol Blood Test, Total

* This is not a home test kit. You will need to visit a local lab for testing.

Also Known As

Serum Cortisol, Cortisol Level Test, Hydrocortisone test

Purpose of the Cortisol Test

A cortisol total test is requested to assess your cortisol level and diagnose medical conditions such as Cushing’s disease, secondary adrenal insufficiency, and Addison’s disease.

Cortisol (367)

What Does the Cortisol Total Test Measure?

The cortisol blood test determines the level of cortisol production in the body. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands (small organs on top of each kidney) when stimulated by ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone). ACTH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, a tiny organ inside the head below the brain.

It is released in excess amounts during stressful situations. Likewise, overproduction of cortisol also happens when problems occur in the pituitary gland, such as hyperplasia or tumor growth, causing Cushing’s disease.

On the other hand, low levels of cortisol can be associated with Addison’s disease or adrenal insufficiency.

Who Should Take a Cortisol Total Blood Test?

It’s best to take the cortisol test when you exhibit symptoms of health conditions linked to abnormal cortisol levels. Refer to the following symptoms for Cushing and Addison’s disease.

Cushing Disease (high cortisol)

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Acne and bruising
  • Muscle weakness
  • Thin arms and legs
  • High blood pressure
  • Purple stretch marks
  • High blood sugar levels
  • A hump between the shoulders
  • A round face and fatty deposits (visible in the midsection and the base of the neck)

Addison’s disease (low cortisol)

  • Weight loss
  • Salt craving
  • Mouth sores
  • Fainting spells
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low blood sugar levels
  • Skin darkening (hyperpigmentation)

Cortisol Lab Test Preparation

No special preparation is required before taking the cortisol total blood test.

Cortisol Total Test Results

The cortisol test report shows results which are then analyzed based on the interval reference. The normal range for cortisol level depends on age and time (morning or afternoon) wherein the sample was drawn.

Cortisol reference range

  • Aged 1 to 17 years old

AM: 3.0 – 25.0 mcg/dL

PM: 3.0 – 17.0 mcg/dL

  • Aged 18 and above

Morning (7 to 9 AM): 4.0 – 22.0 mcg/dL

Afternoon (3 to 5 PM): 3.0 – 17.0 mcg/dL

Too much cortisol is characterized by a measurement beyond 22 mcg/dL for those who have undergone testing in the morning and 17 mcg/dL for specimens taken during the afternoon. Likewise, a reading below the normal range suggests low cortisol, which can also entail adrenal issues.

Where Can I Get Cortisol Testing Done Near Me?

You can have a cortisol lab test via Personalabs when you follow these steps.

Step 1: Go to our website’s Hormone Testing section, order the cortisol blood test total online and download the lab test order. This becomes your doctor’s order for your bloodwork.

Step 2: Use our lab locator to choose an affiliate medical laboratory near you.

Step 3: Visit the patient partner center to have your blood sample taken.

Step 4: Expect the lab test results within 2-10 business days in your Personalabs account.

For an exact turnaround time for results, please contact us at 1-888-438-5227. We will contact the lab of your choice (Quest Diagnostics or Labcorp) as turnaround times vary depending on testing location or lab testing provider.

Additional information



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Results can be provided in as little as 24-48 hrs. For more complex tests, please contact us for turn around times.


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