Cushing's Syndrome

Cushing's syndrome facts*

*Cushing's syndrome facts by

  • Cushing's syndrome, or "hypercortisolism," is a relatively rare hormonal disorder caused by prolonged exposure of the body's tissues to high levels of the hormone cortisol.
  • Symptoms include upper body obesity, rounded face, increased fat around the neck, thinning arms and legs, fatigue, weakness, high blood pressure, and mood disorders. Children tend to be obese with slowed growth rates.
  • Pituitary adenomas cause most cases of Cushing's syndrome. They are benign, or non-cancerous, tumors of the pituitary gland which secrete increased amounts of ACTH, (adrenocorticotropin), a hormone that stimulates the adrenal glands.
  • Cushing's syndrome can also be caused by taking glucocorticoid hormones such as prednisone for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other inflammatory diseases, or for immunosuppression after transplantation. It may also develop because of overproduction of cortisol by the body, or adrenal tumors.
  • Cushing's syndrome is diagnosed with tests such as the 24-hour urinary free cortisol level test, the dexamethasone suppression test, the CRH stimulation test, CT scan or MRI, and the dexamethasone-CRH test.
  • Treatment depends on the specific reason for cortisol excess and may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or the use of cortisol-inhibiting drugs.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/15/2014

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