Cortisol urine test

Definition

The cortisol urine test measures the level of cortisol in the urine. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid (steroid) hormone produced by the adrenal gland.

Cortisol can also be measured using a blood or saliva test.

How the Test is Performed

A 24-hour urine sample is needed. You will need to collect your urine over 24 hours in a container provided by the laboratory. Your health care provider will tell you how to do this. Follow instructions exactly.

Because cortisol production by the adrenal gland can vary, the test may need to be done three or more separate times to get a more accurate picture of average cortisol production.

How to Prepare for the Test

You may be asked not to do any vigorous exercising the day before the test.

You may also be told to temporarily stop taking medicines that can affect the test, including:

How the Test will Feel

The test involves only normal urination. There is no discomfort.

Why the Test is Performed

The test is done to check for increased or decreased cortisol production. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid (steroid) hormone released from the adrenal gland in response to adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This is a hormone released from the pituitary gland in the brain. Cortisol affects many different body systems. It plays a role in:

Different diseases, such as Cushing syndrome and Addison disease, can lead to either too much or too little production of cortisol. Measuring urine cortisol level can help diagnose these conditions.

Normal Results

Normal range is 4 to 40 mcg/24 hours or 11 to 110 nmol/day.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or may test different specimens. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A higher than normal level may indicate:

A lower than normal level may indicate:

Risks

There are no risks with this test.


Review Date: 5/6/2019
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, board certified in Metabolism/Endocrinology, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.