Cushing Syndrome

How Do We Define Cushing Syndrome?

Cushing Syndrome is developed due to overexposure to corticosteroids. This condition can also develop when the body starts producing excessive cortisol. When there is excessive production of cortisol in the body then there will be definite signs like a hump in the shoulders, rounded face, or visible stretch marks on the skin. Cushing Syndrome can cause persistent hypertension and diabetes in some cases. The main aim of treatment of Cushing Syndrome is to bring the cortisol levels back to normal and improve the symptoms experienced by the affected individual. The outcome of the treatment is entirely dependent on how early the disease is treated.

 Cushing Syndrome

What Are The Causes Of Cushing Syndrome?

Cushing Syndrome as stated is caused due to overproduction of cortisol. This can either be due to an individual being on corticosteroids for a prolonged length of time or the body starts producing excessive cortisol. The adrenal glands are responsible for producing cortisol in the body. Cortisol helps in regulation of blood pressure and maintains the functioning of the cardiovascular system. Cortisol also regulates the conversion of fats, carbohydrates, etc. in the body but when there is excessive production of cortisol then there is development of Cushing Syndrome.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cushing Syndrome?

The symptoms of Cushing Syndrome may be variable. Some of the common signs and symptoms of Cushing Syndrome are:

Symptoms Of Cushing Syndrome

  • Obesity which may be progressive
  • Visible skin changes like a hump in the shoulders or stretch marks in the skin
  • Delicate and sensitive skin which has a tendency to bruise easily
  • Delayed healing of bruises or cuts
  • Acne
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Persistent hypertension
  • In some cases development of diabetes
  • Frequent headaches
  • Bone loss causing frequent fractures

Females who develop Cushing Syndrome may also have the following symptoms:

  • Presence of hirsutism
  • Irregular menstrual periods

Males with Cushing syndrome may also have the following symptoms:

How Is Cushing Syndrome Diagnosed?

To diagnose Cushing Syndrome, the treating physician will perform a detailed physical examination and may order the following test for a definitive diagnosis

  • Cortisol levels
  • Blood sugars
  • Dexamethasone Suppression Test
  • 24-hour urine for cortisol
  • ACTH levels

Some Of The Other Tests That May Be Performed Are:

  • CT scan of the abdomen
  • ACTH levels
  • Pituitary MRI
  • Bone density test

What Are Treatments For Cushing Syndrome?

The treatment of Cushing Syndrome is solely dependent on the underlying cause of the disease:

If Cushing Syndrome is caused by excessive corticosteroid use, then the treating physician will recommend a slow taper of the medication until it is totally discontinued. In case the medication cannot be discontinued, then blood pressure, blood sugars, bone density should be closely observed.

If Cushing Syndrome is caused by a pituitary tumor then the following treatment options may be required:

  • Surgery for removal of the tumor
  • Radiation therapy in some instances after the tumor is removed
  • Cortisol replacement therapy.

If Cushing Syndrome is caused due to an adrenal tumor then the following may be required:

  • Surgery for removal of the tumor
  • In case if tumor may not be able to be removed then administration of medications which block overproduction of cortisol is considered.

Home Remedies For Cushing Syndrome

Some Of The Home Remedies For Cushing Syndrome Are:

  • Try and increase the activities gradually and over time as the muscles are weak and require time to build themselves up
  • Try and maintain balanced nutrition and eat healthy food. Weight control is also imperative. Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D is recommended to strengthen the bones
  • Since Cushing Syndrome can be a cause of depression, hence maintain good mental health and keep the brain occupied with something constructive like reading books or crossword puzzles.
  • Seeking psychiatric help is important if symptoms of depression are not improving.
  • For muscle and joint pains that come along with Cushing Syndrome, gentle stretching exercises can help relieve those pains.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 2, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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