Cushing Syndrome

Cushing syndrome is a rare type of hormonal disorder that develops when the body’s tissues are exposed to cortisol for long period. It is also known as hypercortisolism in medical terms. It can cause increase in weight, increase volumes of fat around the face and neck, and thinning of arms and legs. It can also cause mood swings and hypertension.

Cushing syndrome is caused by pituitary adenomas and prolonged intake of corticosteroid drugs and other immune suppressant drugs. Excess secretion of cortisol can also cause this disorder. Symptoms of Cushing syndrome can be managed with applicable treatment after diagnosing the root cause. This disorder develops mostly in the age group of 20-50 years.

Symptoms :

Due to increased production of cortisol hormone several changes can occur in the body. The affected person becomes obese and his face becomes round due to excess deposition of fat. The same effect is also found around the neck region but in contrary his legs and arms would be thin. The skin becomes fragile and vulnerable for wounds and puncture.

The individual may develop pink marks on the thighs, abdomen and buttocks. His bone become weak and makes it difficult for him to carry on simple tasks like lifting an object or getting up from a chair. It can lead to increased blood sugar and blood pressure adding more complications. Women may develop hair growth (overly) on the face and chest region and even on their abdomen. This disorder can also affect the normal menstrual cycle in women and can cause decreased libido and erectile dysfunction in men. In addition to the above, the individual may also feel excess of tiredness. He may lose control of his emotions and can develop anxiety and depression problems.

Causes :

Over production of cortisol hormone in the body is the main cause for Cushing syndrome. It is the adrenal glands that secrete plenty of hormones which include cortisol also. This particular hormone is vital for keeping your blood pressure under control and also helps in regulating the function of cardiovascular system. It prepares the body to face stressful events and also helps in metabolize nutrition accepted by the body and convert them into energy.

  • External Causes :

Prolonged use of steroid drugs like prednisone and other corticosteroids for immune disorders like lupus and arthritis can cause increase in the level of cortisol hormone. Asthma patients may also use steroids in the form of spray and injection which can lead to this disorder.

  • Internal Causes :

Adrenal glands can produce excess of cortisol hormone due to variety of diseases and disorders. Development of tumor (non-cancerous) in the pituitary gland can cause pituitary adenoma leading to over production of cortisol. An ectopic tumor in any other part of the body can also cause ACTH leading to Cushing syndrome. Any disorder in the adrenal glands can cause Cushing syndrome. In rare cases it can be due to family history.

Complications :

If left untreated, Cushing syndrome symptoms can cause complications like osteoporosis (bone loss), hypertension, loss of muscle strength, diabetes and other infections.

Tests :

Based on change in physical appearance your doctor may suspect Cushing syndrome. She would collect complete medical history to know whether you have been using steroid drugs for long term. She may order for blood profile and urine analysis to check the level of cortisol. Saliva test will also be done at various time intervals of day and night to confirm increase in the level of cortisol. To detect any tumors she may order for imaging tests like CT scan.

Treatment :

Your doctor will have to find out the exact causative factor and accordingly design the treatment for Cushing syndrome. If you are an individual who is using corticosteroid drugs for long period, your doctor would reduce the dosage and see whether the symptoms of Cushing syndrome improves. But remember you should not try stopping these drugs abruptly since it can cause complications. Your doctor would slowly taper off the drugs.

For people whom presence of tumor is the root cause for Cushing syndrome, your doctor would recommend surgery to remove it. Any abscess in the adrenal glands or elsewhere in the body can lead to increased cortisol secretion. Your doctor will monitor the level of cortisol regularly after the surgery and supplement with cortisol injection, if necessary.

Radiation treatment is effective for removing pituitary tumor which can be given in break-ups or as a single dose, depending on factors like size and intensity of tumor. Drugs are given to reduce cortisol hormone for some people who are severely affected with Cushing syndrome. Combination of drug treatment with radiation and surgical approach are also common in practice. Medications like Nizoral, Lysodren and Metopirone are prescribed.

Images, Pics, Photos and Pictures of Cushing Syndrome :

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Lifestyle Changes :

It is quite common to experience tiredness after surgery or any other therapy. You need to follow the instructions of your doctor and slowly increase the activities. Eat healthy balanced diet and include enough calcium and vitamins in your food. Cushing syndrome can cause depression disorder and hence do not avoid or ignore your symptoms. Consult your doctor if you have doubt that you are having disturbed mental health.

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