Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal cortex. Cortisol is mainly released in response to stress. Mild elevations of cortisol rarely produce recognizable symptoms. High levels of cortisol for prolonged periods can cause Cushing's syndrome, which is a disorder characterized by hypertension, diabetes, depression and stretch marks. Certain drugs are used to decrease high levels of cortisol.
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Mitotane, whose brand name is Lysodren, is an adrenocortical suppressant that may be used to lower cortisol levels, according to the Mayo Clinic. Mitotane reduces the amount of cortisol that is produced by the adrenal cortex, which in turn inhibits the overgrowth of cancerous tumors in the adrenal gland, according to Drugs.com. Side effects of mitotane include drowsiness, dizziness, depression, nausea, vomiting, weakness, diarrhea and darkening of the skin. Patients who take mitotane require regular checkups to monitor side effects of the drug.
Metopirone may be used to lower high cortisol levels in patients with Cushing's syndrome, according to the Mayo Clinic. Metopirone works by blocking the production of cortisol and corticosterone in the adrenal cortex. Patients with adrenal gland conditions such as adrenal cortical insufficiency should not take metopirone. Side effects of metopirone include drowsiness, dizziness, stomach, pain, nausea and vomiting, according to Drugs.com.
Ketoconazole, whose brand name is Nizoral, is an anti-fungal medication that may be used to lower high levels of cortisol, according to the Mayo Clinic. Side effects of ketoconazole include headache, dizziness, loss of sex drive, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, according to Drugs.com. Patients taking ketoconazole may require regular blood tests and liver function tests to monitor the harmful effects of the drug.
Aminoglutethimide, or Cytadren, may also be used to decrease high levels of cortisol. Aminoglutethimide is a drug that interferes with the production of cortisol and other hormones in the body, according to Drugs.com. Less serious effects of aminoglutethimide include headache, dizziness, drowsiness, weakness, poor coordination, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Adverse effects include hypotension and severe allergic reactions.