Most people with Cushing syndrome are treated and cured. Some health problems may persist after successful treatment. The problems that may continue after the treatment include weak bones, high blood pressure, diabetes, and mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
If an individual got Cushing syndrome because of a tumor, they would need to have regular follow-ups with their provider for the rest of their lives to check for additional tumors. Cushing syndrome caused by a pituitary tumor (pituitary adenoma) is called Cushing disease. In adults with Cushing disease, the tumor needs to be surgically removed. Rarely, a few tumor cells may be left after the surgery. Thus, regular checkups are needed to know whether the adenoma has grown again.
What is Cushing syndrome?
Cushing syndrome is a medical condition in which there are high levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a type of hormone produced by the adrenal glands (small glands present over the kidney) in the body. It is also known as the ‘stress hormone’ because it helps the body respond to various kinds of stress. The hormone also helps in:
- Maintaining blood pressure
- Regulating blood glucose levels
- Reducing inflammation in the body
- Converting the food eaten into energy
Cushing syndrome may be caused by certain medications, such as corticosteroids. This type of Cushing syndrome is called exogenous Cushing syndrome. Rarely, Cushing syndrome may be caused by excessive production of cortisol in the body called endogenous Cushing syndrome (something within the body is causing the condition).
Cushing syndrome caused by a pituitary tumor (pituitary adenoma) is known as Cushing disease. Cushing syndrome may also be caused by other tumors, such as adrenal tumors and ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) (a hormone that stimulates cortisol production) producing tumors in the lungs, pancreas, thyroid, and thymus.
What are the symptoms of Cushing syndrome?
The symptoms of Cushing syndrome include:
- Weight gain, particularly upper body obesity (above the waist)
- Thin arms and legs
- Moon face (round, full face)
- Increased fat around the base of the neck and a fatty hump between the shoulders (buffalo hump)
- A slow growth rate in children
- Acne flares
- Frequent skin infections
- Striae (purple stretch marks around half-inch wide on the skin of the abdomen, thighs, hips, upper arms, and breasts)
- Increased bruising tendency most commonly on the arms and hands
- Weak muscles associated with reduced exercise tolerance
- Backache that may occur with routine activities
- Bone pain/tenderness
- Weakening of the bones, which may lead to fractures especially of the ribs and spine
Women with Cushing syndrome may additionally have:
- Excessive growth of hair on the face, neck, chest, abdomen, and thighs
- An irregular menstrual cycle or the menstrual periods may stop
Cushing syndrome may cause additional symptoms in men such as:
- Decreased libido (reduced or no desire for sex)
- Erectile dysfunction (the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse)
- Other symptoms may include:
- Mental issues including depression, anxiety, or changes in behavior
- Frequent infections
- Increased thirst
- Increased urine frequency
- High blood pressure
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Acthrel (corticorelin ovine triflutate)Acthrel (corticorelin ovine triflutate) for Injection is a man-made form of a hormone that occurs naturally in the body and is used as part of a medical test in people with Cushing's syndrome, an endocrine disorder caused by high levels of cortisol (a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland). Acthrel is also used to help your doctor determine why your body is producing too much of its own cortisol. Common side effects of Acthrel include warmth, redness, or tingly feeling in your face, neck, or chest.
Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
mifepristoneMifepristone (Mifeprex) is a synthetic steroid used to terminate early pregnancy. The Korlym brand of mifepristone is a cortisol receptor blocker, used to manage and treat high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) in people with Cushing’s syndrome. Serious and sometimes fatal infections and bleeding occur very rarely. A failed pregnancy termination could cause birth defects. Common side effects include abdominal pain and cramping, uterine cramping, nausea, fatigue, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, endometrial hypertrophy, low blood potassium (hypokalemia), joint pain (arthralgia), swelling of extremities (peripheral edema), and others.
Sex-Drive KillersNoticing a lack of intimacy with your partner? Here we explore how stress, lack of sleep, weight gain, depression and low T can cause low sex drive in men and women.