Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands with responsibility for regulation of a number of vital body functions. Treatments for low cortisol levels typically involve use of cortisol replacements.

The Facts

Low cortisol levels are a sign of a condition called adrenal insufficiency, notes the National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service. Adrenal gland degeneration typically results in primary adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease), while lack of certain substances that stimulate the adrenal glands results in secondary adrenal insufficiency.

Glucocorticoid Replacement

Cortisol belongs to a class of hormones called glucocorticoids, according to the NEMDIS. Replacement of low cortisol typically involves oral treatment with synthetic glucocorticoids such as prednisone, dexamethasone or hydrocortisone.


Doctors might prescribe treatment with replacement glucocorticoids between one and three times daily, according to the National Institutes of Health Clinical Service. Dosage frequency varies with the specific type of glucocorticoid in use.

Severe Cases

Severe cases of adrenal insufficiency can trigger potentially fatal symptoms including low blood pressure and loss of consciousness. Treatment for these symptoms consists of IV injections of synthetic glucocorticoids and saline solution combined with dextrose, states the NEMDIS.


Adrenal insufficiency can also involve decreased output of the hormone aldosterone, notes the NEMDIS.