Cortisol Imbalance

Stressed woman holding her head

Cortisol Imbalances 

When most people think of hormone imbalances, they think of estrogen and testosterone, but those aren’t the only hormones that can go haywire and cause problems. 

Your adrenal glands, which sit above your kidneys, produce the hormone cortisol in response to stress and danger and to accelerate your metabolism, control your blood pressure, and reduce inflammation.  

When you have too much or not enough cortisol, you generally experience significant symptoms and may develop an adrenal disease or disorder. That’s when you need the help of our adrenal disease experts.  

At Palmetto Endocrinology, our specialists have many years of experience diagnosing and treating conditions that disrupt normal hormone production. Here, we explain what happens when your cortisol levels are too high or too low and how to get them under control.  


Signs that you may have a cortisol imbalance 

 The pituitary gland in your brain sends a signal to your adrenal glands to produce cortisol. When your cortisol level is off, it may indicate a problem with either your pituitary gland or your adrenal glands. The problem might also stem from an infection, a tumor, or even certain prescription medications.  


Symptoms of too much cortisol 

Consistently high levels of cortisol can take a toll on your body. You may experience: 

Cushing’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome occur when you have hypercortisolism, or too much cortisol. These conditions are rare but treatable. 


Symptoms of too little cortisol 

An inadequate cortisol supply also leads to negative effects. You may experience: 

Addison’s disease occurs when your adrenal glands reduce or stop their cortisol production.  


How to control cortisol production 

The best treatment to get your cortisol production under control depends on the underlying cause of the problem. If cancer or a tumor is causing your symptoms, for example, you may need radiation therapy and surgery. 

If you have Cushing’s disease related to a steroid medication you take, you may need to stop taking that medication under our supervision. We often treat Addison’s disease with hydrocortisone to supplement your cortisol supply and fludrocortisone to replace another hormone, aldosterone, that also typically wanes with Addison’s.  

The effects of too much or too little cortisol can be fatal over time, so don’t ignore the signs. We can diagnose the root cause of your imbalance and get your cortisol production back on track.  

Contact us at Palmetto Endocrinology today by calling or booking an appointment online. 


Joseph W. Mathews, MD, FACP, FACE, ECNU, CCD Joseph Mathews, MD, FACP, FACE, ECNU, CCD Joseph W. Mathews M.D., a board certified Endocrinologist and Medical Director of Palmetto Endocrinology, was born and raised in South Carolina. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the College of Charleston, Cum Laude. He then achieved his M.D. at the Medical University of South Carolina where he also completed his residency in Internal Medicine and a Fellowship in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism. Dr. Mathews is also a Fellow of both the American College of Endocrinology and the American College of Physicians, holds an Endocrine Certification in Neck Ultrasound (ECNU) and is a Certified Clinical Densitometrist (CCD). He has extensive experience performing ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration biopsies. His practice includes a range of specializations including prescribing and fitting patients with insulin pumps. Dr. Mathews' practice has drawn patients from out of state to benefit from his expertise in thyroid disorders, diabetes, cortisol problems and their Endocrine disorders.

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