- by Bangalore Baptist Hospital
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- Jan 08 2018
Cushing’s Syndrome: Causes and Symptoms
It is a hormonal disorder. It occurs when the body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol for a long time. It is also called hypercortisolism and is more common in women than men. It most often seen in people ages 25 to 40.
The body may produce high levels of cortisol for a variety of reasons, including:
- High-stress levels, including stress related to an acute illness, surgery, injury, or pregnancy, especially in the final trimester.
- Athletic training
- Depression, panic disorders, or high levels of emotional stress.
The most common Cause of Cushing syndrome is the use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, in high doses for a long period.
Cortisol is a hormone normally made by the adrenal glands and it is necessary for life. It allows people to respond to stressful situations such as illness and has effects on almost all body tissues.
- Weight gain
- Fatty deposits, especially in the midsection, the face and between the shoulders and the upper back.
- Purple stretch marks on the breasts, arms, abdomen, and thighs
- Skin injuries that are slow to heal
- Muscle weakness
- Glucose intolerance
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Bone loss
- High blood pressure
- A headache
- Cognitive dysfunction
- An increased incidence of infections
Women may also:
- Notice extra facial and body hair, as well as absent or irregular menstruation.
Men may also have:
- Erectile dysfunction
- A loss of sexual interest
- Decreased fertility
Children with the condition are generally obese and have a slower rate of growth.
The diagnosis is made based on abnormal cortisol levels in the body. The doctor will perform a physical examination and review your medical history and symptoms. They may ask for some tests, including:
- A 24-hour urinary free cortisol test
- Midnight plasma cortisol and late-night salivary cortisol measurements
- A low-dose dexamethasone suppression test
- Low blood ACTH level test
Treatment will depend on the cause. A doctor may prescribe a medication to help. Some medications decrease cortisol production in the adrenal glands or decrease ACTH production in the pituitary gland. Other medications block the effect of cortisol on your tissues.
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