Cushing's Syndrome Details

Expanded Description

Cushing’s Syndrome is a rare endocrine disorder characterized by high levels of cortisol in the blood.

Cushing’s Syndrome is caused by chronic exposure of the body’s tissues to excess levels of cortisol – a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal gland. Pituitary adenomas, usually benign, secrete increased amounts of ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone), a substance that controls the release of cortisol in that feedback loop. It typically causes an overproduction of cortisol. Tumors of the adrenal gland and ectopic ACTH producing tumors can cause similar problems with cortisol overproduction.

Prevalence

No prevalence information has been added yet.

Causes

Cushing’s Syndrome occurs when the body is exposed to high levels of cortisol for long periods of time.

Many people develop Cushing’s Syndrome because of glucocorticoid hormones such as prednisone for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other inflammatory diseases, or for immunosuppression after transplantation.

Some people develop Cushing’s Syndrome because of overproduction of cortisol by the body due to a pituitary adenoma which secretes excess ACTH, an adrenal adenoma which secretes excess cortisol, or an ectopic tumor which may secrete either ACTH or cortisol..

Disorder Symptoms

There are several symptoms that affect people with Cushing’s Syndrome. Not everyone has all the symptoms and this list is not all inclusive. The weight gain can vary by individual.

Name Description
Rapid weight gain Rapid weight gain
Excess sweating Excess sweating
Telangiectasia Telangiectasia is the dilation of capillaries.
Severe fatigue Severe fatigue
Striae Striae are irregular areas of skin that look like bands, stripes, or lines.
Buffalo hump Buffalo hump
High blood pressure High blood pressure that is often hard to control even with medication
High blood sugars and/or insulin resistance High blood sugars and/or insulin resistance
Insomnia Insomnia
Altered diurnal rhythm Altered diurnal rhythm
Secondary hypothyroidism Secondary hypothyroidism
Low hormones Low hormones such as FH, LSH, testosterone, growth hormone
Low vitamin D Low vitamin D
Low ferritin Low ferritin
Easy bruising Easy bruising
Muscle, bone, and joint pain Unexplained muscle, bone, and joint pain
Muscle weakness Muscle weakness
Hirsutism Hirsutism is increased facial hair/body hair
Loss of menstrual cycle and/or ovulation Loss of menstrual cycle and/or ovulation
Loss of libido Loss of libido
Galactorrhea Galactorrhea
Loss of hair on head Loss of hair on head
Difficulty when drawing blood Difficulty when drawing blood

Diagnosis

Imaging: Dynamic MRI

Biochemical: Combination of two or more of the following:

1.) Multiple high tests including 24 hr urinary free cortisol (UFC)
2.) Late-night salivary and serum cortisols, other high cortisol (salivary and serum) measurements
3.) High ACTH
4.) Non-suppression on dexamethasone suppression test
5.) Multiple hormonal imbalances

Diagnostic Tests

There are two primary diagnostic tests for Cushing’s Syndrome, the Dexamethasone suppression test and the 24-hour urinary cortisol measurement test.

Name
Dexamethasone Suppression Test
24-Hour Urinary Measurement for Cortisol

Disorder Treatments

Pituitary: Transsphenoidal surgery to remove adenoma and/or radiation therapy

Adrenal: Unilateral or bilateral adrenalectomy

Ectopic: If source is located, removal of the tumor. If not and it is ACTH producing, a bilateral adrenalectomy to alleviate cortisol production.

We don't have any treatments yet.

Prognosis

Varies depending on degree and length of illness, treatment, and cure or remission.

Tips for Living with the Disorder

We don't have any tips yet.

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