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Published: 9 years ago

Serum-test shows high cortisol, but symptoms of low cortisol?

Here is a very short version of my background and buildup of symptoms:
Recently I found out I have had chronic GI-inflammation due to bad chewing since I was a kid. This lead to food intolerances that further increased the GI-inflammation.
When I started high-school, I started to get very dry eyes, dry mouth (low saliva was a problem when I was a kid too). I also didn't feel like myself, I had decreased mood, lower energy, decreased motivation, handled stress and social situations worse, stumbled to find words etc. At the same time I was playing soccer on a high level, exercising and playing matches every day. My symptoms got gradually worse, and I felt like I had this constant brain-fog. I also got a hip-injury due to prolonged stress on my hip. No one could figure out what it was, but I'm now pretty sure it's chronic inflammation in my hip. When I couldn't play soccer anymore, I began heavy weight training up to 5 times a week and began working as a construction worker. I started to eat huge amounts of food, and chew them worse than ever and flushed it down with water or milk. I had good progress in my training, and gained 10 kilos in 1.5 years, where the last 6 month was 5 hard workouts/week + hard days at work. Then, I crashed. After floating on this high of never-ending stress of working and exercising, I experienced extreme fatigue, extreme mental fogginess, completely unable to focus, palpitations, high pulse from nothing. I took some days off work and a few weeks of exercising, but the symptoms was still present to a small degree, and whenever I pushed it I would crash again.

It has now been 3 years since I crashed. I completed 1 year on college, but had to take this year off to sort out my health problems. I have addressed my digestion-problems, and GI-inflammation is kept to a minimum. However, when I couldn't workout anymore, I filled the void with online video-games. These games stressed me out a lot, (I get 150+ pulse in pressured situations and my body fires up all cylinders even though I'm sitting still in my chair trying to relax) and if I play for a prolonged time I feel bad for hours or days later. Stupid as I am, I ignored this and kept playing which probably halted my progress a lot.

The symptoms I'm currently stuck with at rest, are mainly: Clumsy, Brain fog, Can't concentrate, Restlessness even when tired, Bad memory, Confusion, Dizziness, Fatigue, Feeling better after 8 pm, Heart palpitations,
Hypoglycemia (not a problem after I started to eat ketogenic), Inability to focus, Blurry vision, Bad night vision, Inability to handle stress,
Inability to interact with others, Irritable, Rage or sudden angry outburst, Overreacting, Paranoid, No patience,
Worsening of symptoms after hard exercise, Worsening of symptoms after psychological stress, high and pounding heart-rate from small stress like walking up the stairs.

Symptoms during stress: high heart-rate, pounding heartbeat, "heavy-head", irritable, outbursts etc.
Symptoms after some hours after stress: Worsening of the symptoms at rest.

Other symptoms: Dark circles under eyes, Bags under eyes, Inflammation that doesn't go away, pale skin etc.

When do I feel better: Sometimes before bed (20.00-24.00) I can feel really good, more or less symptom-free. Also early in the morning, especially the first 30min-1hour.
The same happens sometimes during intense weight training, and 3 hours after. During this time I feel like its much easier to interact with others. I don't stumble to find words and I enjoy making conversations, something I normally don't do anymore.
However, about 3 hours after this good feeling, I get brain-fog, increased HR and pounding heart from low stress, fatigue, irritability and many other symptoms listed above.

I have done a lot lifestyle-changes and have made tons of progress (I have mainly completely eliminated the fatigue), but the last months I have been stuck with no progress.
The thing is, when I do no mistakes (no GI-flareup, no hard exercise, no mental stress), I get increased brain-fog, worse concentration, irritability and so on. But when I do mistakes, I usually get better mental alertness and better concentration, but I also get fatigue and more of a "heavy-head" feeling.

I have made a chart that explains the vicious cycle and the complexity of my symptoms, and possibly how to ease the symptoms:


My theory is that when I do no mistakes, I get low cortisol because my body stores cortisol for emergencies only. When I do mistakes, my body secretes cortisol. Most of the low-cortisol symptoms goes away, but I get other symptoms related to GI-flareup, stress, sympathetic activation etc. And then, after some time I would end up with low-cortisol symptoms again.

I have experimented with licorice-root. It has improved my symptoms sometimes, but I often get side effects like pain behind my eyes (high blood-pressure caused by licorice?) and also negative feedback loop which further worsens my symptoms.
The last 2 days I have tried 20g hydro-cortisone 1% creme taken 10g,5g,2.5g,2.5g. I felt like it helped, but the effect seemed to only last for about 30 minutes and it took 40-60 minutes after application before I felt it. 20g creme contains 200 mg hydro-cortisone, but I have no idea how much of this actually gets into my bloodstream. I know bodybuilders and other crazy people eat this cream, but I have no intension of trying that with my current GI-situation.

I have taken tons of blood-tests, and everything is fine. T4 18.9, T3 4.4, DHEA 9.3. However, when I tested my morning cortisol, it was 973 (norm 250-750). Before this test, I had a horrible 1h drive on snowy conditions which definitely stressed me out several times. When you slightly lose control of your car at 60 mph its hard to not get stressed out.

Does this description fit with adrenal fatigue? If so, stage 1, 2 or 3?

I have never seen direct proof that my cortisol is low, but according to all I have read on the internet, my current symptoms fit low cortisol. However, when I was a kid and before my symptoms developed, I would actually say I had signs that could indicate high cortisol.

What do you guys think? I tried to keep it as short as possible, but that I can now see I failed... :P


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