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What are the treatments for low cortisol levels?

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Quick Answer

Treatment for low cortisol levels, which are typically caused by Addison's disease, involves taking synthetic hydrocortisone tablets once or twice per day, explains MedicineNet.com. In pregnant women who cannot tolerate oral medications due to vomiting and nausea, hydrocortisone or cortisol injections may be used instead.

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Full Answer

A normal cortisol level for a child or adult is between 3 and 5 micrograms per deciliter in the morning, or between 3 and 16 micrograms per deciliter in the afternoon, according to WebMD. A low level of cortisol often indicates that the adrenal glands, which produce cortisol, are not functioning properly. Low cortisol production is referred to as Addison's disease, according to MedicineNet.com. Patients with Addison's disease often experience fatigue, low blood pressure, muscle weakness and weight loss. These symptoms typically begin gradually and become worse over time.

Patients with Addison's disease may suffer what is known as an Addisonian crisis, in which blood pressure and blood sugar levels drop and levels of potassium increase, explains MedicineNet.com. To ensure safety, a patient with this condition should wear an identification tag explaining that an emergency care provider should inject him with 100 milligrams of cortisol if he is found incapacitated. Patients with Addison's disease are also advised to carry needles, syringes and cortisol when traveling, in case of emergencies.

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