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Saliva hormone panel test showed high cortisol and DHEA. What does this mean?

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Geriatrics Specialist
Practicing since : 2012
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Hi my name is XXXXXXX XXXXXXX i am 30 years old and i recently did a stress saliva hormone panel and both cortisol and DHEA are very high, what could this mean? my symptoms are anxiety and worry all the time, migranes and presssure in my head.
Posted Sat, 30 Mar 2013 in X-ray, Lab tests and Scans
Answered by Dr. Surendiran Gaj 2 hours later
Thanks for writing to us,

Adrenal hormones (cortisol and DHEA) are responsible for stress relieving purposes as they are produced in response to stress in one’s body.
The reason for your increase in level of cortisol and DHEA could be of adrenal gland itself or due to over stimulation of adrenals by pituitary gland (high end regulator).
DHEA is an anabolic hormone, which affects the immune system, blood pressure, and sleep, among its many functions. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone, which affects the immune system, blood pressure, and sleep. When your body feels stress, cortisol is essential. Cortisol maintains and raises your energy levels to assist your body during that stressful period. Together, these two hormones work to provide your body with an optimal stress response.
The symptoms of anxiety, increase in heart rate, increase blood pressure and head ache are due to raised cortisol level, it all subsides once the underlying cause is identified and treated accordingly.
It is advisable to do an ultrasound of adrenals to look out for any mass resulting in the symptoms.
Visit a nearby physician to examine yourself and get treated accordingly if your symptoms are getting worse.
Feel free to ask further questions,
Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Saliva hormone panel test showed high cortisol and DHEA. What does this mean? 4 hours later
is it possible that it could be a pitutory tumor? My other question is regarding ultrasound, i had an abdominal ultrasound done a few weeks ago due to bloating all the time and they found a hangenoma on my liver, they looked at my kidneys if there was a mass on my adrenal gland would they have seen it? I have been affected by a contraceptive device, and i also have a breast fibroadenoma due to all the imbalances of the hormones.
Answered by Dr. Surendiran Gaj 37 minutes later
Nice to XXXXXXX you again,
Yes, there are chances of pituitary mass, but do not panic, since most of the pituitary mass are benign and easily treatable. Simple laboratory investigations like DEXAMETHASONE SUPPRESSION TEST is enough to know the involvement of pituitary.
Of course, if they have gone for liver, they easily noted the mass in adrenal through ultrasound, but chances are there to miss the mass, if it won’t attain an approximate size for the ultrasound probe to grab the reflection.
Well, Fibroadenoma won’t have any impact on the adrenals or the cortisol, as they are benign and they are safe until any complications.
Regarding contraceptive devices have a word with a gynaecologist before using any contraceptive, that too hormonal, in order to prevent unnecessary complications.
As I said already, do not panic, get the investigations done and follow up for further management. If your symptoms are getting worsening, it is advisable to visit a physician.
Let me know if you have further questions,
Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Saliva hormone panel test showed high cortisol and DHEA. What does this mean? 41 minutes later
Thank you for your help. I'm not really worried about all of this it's just that i want to find out what's happening sooner rather than later and i just wan't to make sure we are looking for the problem in all the right places. Dr was going to order an adrenal lultrasound but i talked him out of it because i recently had the abdominal ultrasound and i would just assume they would have seen something in the adrenals when doing an abdominal ultrasound so doctor has ordered a brain MRI instead. Do you have any suggestions if the brain MRI comes back clear what other tests i should have done to see why my cortisol and DHEA are so high?
which kind of cortisol tumors are more common adrenal or pitutory?
Answered by Dr. Surendiran Gaj 3 hours later
Thanks for writing back,

Yes,of course Ms. XXXXXXX it is my pleasure to explain you your condition and get yourself a right diagnosis and proper treatment.

If your MRI is clear, I suggest you a
1. DEXAMETHASONE SUPPRESSION TEST to know the involvement of pituitary.
2. Ultrasound adrenals to make sure it wont involve the adrenals, as I said already.

It is almost enough to check this two tests after MRI comes out clear. I would like you to avoid unnecessary tests. The pituitary based adrenal masses are most common ,rather than primary adrenal tumor as per recent study trials.

Feel free to ask future questions too,
Take care. Wish you good health.
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