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Cushing's Syndrome

more about Cushing's Syndrome



  • Cushing's syndrome is a condition that describes what happens in the body when excessive amounts of corticosteroids are present. Corticosteroids can be overproduced by the adrenal glands in the body. They also may be taken in medication form (e.g., Prednisone, Hydrocortisone) for various diseases, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or asthma. Cushing's "disease", however, refers specifically to the overproduction of corticosteroids due to excessive stimulation of the adrenal cortex by the pituitary gland hormone ACTH (usually a small benign tumor in the pituitary gland is the culprit). The pituitary gland, located in the brain, produces hormones that affect the adrenal glands and other organs.

  • "Moon" face
  • "Buffalo" hump on the back
  • Protruding abdomen
  • Thinning of arms and legs
  • Emotional problems
  • Menstrual periods decrease or stop
  • Cuts heal slowly
  • Impotence
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Acne
  • Backache
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Purple "stripes" on skin
  • Easy Bruising

  • Cushing's disease
  • Cancer-induced hormones
  • Adrenal tumors
  • Adrenal enlargement
  • Prescribed corticosteroids

  • Impaired glucose tolerance (diabetes)
  • Increased white blood cell count
  • Low Potassium
  • Dexamethasone suppression test
  • 24 hour urine test for free cortisol
  • MRI of pituitary glands
  • CT scan of abdomen to evaluate the adrenal glands
  • CT scan of chest and abdomen if cancer source is suspected

  • Pituitary cause -- surgical removal
  • Adrenal cause -- surgical removal
  • Cancer -- induced hormones-surgical removal
  • Medication-induced -- stopping or reducing corticosteroids. Note: this must be done slowly under a doctor's advice. Abruptly stopping corticosteroid medications can be life - threatening.

  • Special Concern

- Persons with Cushing's syndrome must be carefully evaluated for Osteoporosis with tests, such as the bone density test.

more about Cushing's Syndrome

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