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Experiencing muscle weakness and pressure around head. What is the meaning of high cortisol level?

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Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 52 Questions
hi how are you? after a recent test, my primary care physician found out that my cortisol was very high! therefore she referred me to an endocrinologist! I would like to know what is the meaning of my cortisol being high! i have never gone to an endocrinologist before! But my doctor has not taking seriously my severe muscle weakness, my constant tightness and pressure around my head for 6 months, severe joint pain, i feel so weak i feel i am going to pass out all the time, i feel very weak each day that passes by. I stopped driving, i have poor appetite. or even when i eat, it is as if i didn't eat anything. i get cold easily. i can hardly walk, i can hardly lift five pounds! i have also been having pain. they give me tramadol XXXXXXX 50mg. it just makes me feel a little sleepy. the nurse couldn't believe it! she said it is supposed to diminish my pain because it is a strong dose. Before, i used to have numbess and tingling. and after that it was burning sensation on my joints. excruciating, unbearable pain. and after some times i started feeling weakness all over. i haven't been working since october last year, i stopped driving. my mother helps me with everything. i keep having severe weakness even all around my head. weakness all over my body. I feel weaker and weaker every weak. Sometimes, i feel very hungry and sometimes i am not hungry as much how i usually am. im taking iron pills, i take 650mg daily. I don't see any improvement on energy level. I feel a very great deal of amount of fatigue. I feel very very very weak. I always feel sleepy. but its worst than that. my mother brings the food to my bed. because i can't even sit down long enough to eat! my spine hurts and my lower back waist hurt as well. All those things gradually took place in my body. It didn't not happen overnight! I thank you in advance for your thorough information about my complexed situation!
Posted Tue, 13 Nov 2012 in Thyroid Problem and Hormonal Problems
Answered by Dr. Anantharaman 9 hours later

You certainly seem to have a significant issue with your health.

I would like a little more details from you before I could give you useful suggestions. Hence, please answer the following.

Are you taking oral contraceptives because those are a cause for high cortisol.

I want to know if your menstrual cycles are regular, and if you have high BP (Blood Pressure) recordings.

Also have you had a thyroid function test done?

Your cortisol level may be high because of various conditions and one cannot determine its significance without an examination.

Please XXXXXXX an Endocrinologist as advised by your doctor. Also you need to test for diabetes with fasting and post meal glucose.

Please write back to me with answers to some of my queries so that I can give you useful suggestions.

If you already have any investigation reports with you, please upload them on the right side of this page where you have a feature to do this. Alternatively, you may mail me the reports at YYYY@YYYY with subject as ‘Attention to Dr. Anantharaman’.

Awaiting your response.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Experiencing muscle weakness and pressure around head. What is the meaning of high cortisol level? 7 hours later
hi, i am not taking oral contraceptive pills. actually i have low blood pressure. my primary physician wanted me to do a glucose test. when i went to the lab test, the phlebotomist said that i have to fast and also she will give me something to drink and do blood work on me each time. And she also told me i might pass out. Then, i went back to my primary physician and told her that i can't afford to pass out because i already feel like that almost all the time! i feel faint, dizzy, weak, very fatigued, sleepy. whenever i fast for an exam, after that i feel so weak. i feel like i very, extremely weak, very weak, to the core. she said she did some kidney stones. but they are mild, she said.i don't have high blood pressure. My menstrual cycle is regular. but there was one time, it looked like it was not going to show up that particular month! i used to have a cyst, but it is not there, anymore, after the result of that last ultrasound! Actually, i keep having low blood pressure. it could be 88/59. could you tell me what the exact test for diabetes? sometimes, while i am at my house or wherever i am, i feel so weak to the point where i feel the roof spinning with me. Or i am bout to just drop. But i don't know what to do. Whenever i fast for an exam recently, i become too weak afterwards. i feel like i can't do an exam with fasting involved! after the exam, i feel that i am going to drop on the floor and completely pass out! i thank you in advance for your advice!
Answered by Dr. Anantharaman 5 hours later
Thanks for the detailed description.

Your high cortisol level seems to be a normal response to an underlying stress or disease. Cortisol is a stress hormone; it can increase in any stressful state or in other chronic diseases.

Uncontrolled diabetes and high thyroid levels are some of the endocrine causes for high cortisol levels.

I think given your symptoms you should XXXXXXX both an XXXXXXX medicine specialist and an endocrinologist (and quickly).

You can get a fasting and a post meal glucose test done i.e. after a usual meal. You can get it done without the gtt (the fizzy drink). It will give equally good information regarding whether you have diabetes or not.

Anantharaman R
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Experiencing muscle weakness and pressure around head. What is the meaning of high cortisol level? 6 days later
hi, my primary had referred me to an endocrinologist. But, none of the endocrinologist is accepting new patients presently! And i am experiencing muscle weakness, severe muscle weakness. i feel very weak and i am losing appetite. Is there anything that can address my weakness quickly. i feel very weak in the knees really bad. sometimes i feel like they are locked. while i am sitting down, i am asking myself if i will be able to walk. i feel extremely weak. you know if i was simply dealing with pain, i probably, i could manage through it. Perhaps, by seeing a rheumatologist! but i am feeling very weak. And weaker, weaker everyday, every week! I don't find it normal! None of the endocrinologist cannot give me a sooner appointments! meanwhile, what can i do? could you please take my problems into consideration! i thank you in advance of your thorough information!
Answered by Dr. Anantharaman 6 hours later

I'm sorry for your trouble finding an endocrinologist to consult. Unfortunately I cannot advice you regarding any medication that could help you with your muscle weakness, without a physical examination or further tests.

If it is possible for you to XXXXXXX a specialist in XXXXXXX medicine, that should also be OK. The key is to XXXXXXX a doctor quickly and get evaluated. Continue the vitamin D supplement (that can help with some of the muscle weakness).

Hope this was useful.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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