Cushing’s Syndrome

A disorder where the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol.

Cushing’s syndrome is a condition caused by too much of a hormone called cortisol in the body, leading to mental and physical changes.

Normally, cortisol plays a role in managing our stress response, maintaining blood pressure, managing the immune system, and in energy metabolism. Cushing’s disease is caused by an excess of cortisol either from external or internal sources. It is more common for patient’s with Cushing’s to have the excess cortisol come from an external source such as a cortisol-like medication (ex. prednisone). This type of Cushing’s is temporary and will go away once the medication is stopped. Patient’s may also develop Cushing’s when the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. This type of Cushing’s is most commonly caused by a hormone-secreting tumor on the adrenal or pituitary gland.

Symptoms of Cushing’s

  • Upper body obesity, round face and neck, and thinning arms and legs
  • Skin problems, such as acne, or reddish blue streaks on the abdomen or underarm area
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor wound healing
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Muscle and bone weakness
  • Mood changes, irritability, or depression
  • High blood sugars
  • Slow growth rates in children
  • Women may experience increased growth of hair on their face and body, and experience menstrual irregularities.
  • Men may become less fertile and have a reduced or absent sex drive

Resources

Cushing’s Syndrome is rare and only affects 10-15 in 1 million people.