Cushing syndrome is a hormone disorder. Cortisol, in normal doses, helps the body manage stress and infection. However, high levels over a long period of time can cause several health problems.
Prolonged or excess exposure to cortisol may be caused by:
- Long-term use of corticosteroid hormones, such as cortisone or prednisone
- Excess production of cortisol by:
|Pituitary and Adrenal Glands|
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Factors that may increase your chance of Cushing syndrome include using corticodsteroids to treat diseases, such as:
Cushing syndrome may cause:
- Weight gain of the upper body and trunk
- Rounded face
- Severe fatigue or muscle weakness
- Easily bruised, thinner skin
- Purple stretch marks
- Excess hair growth or acne in women
- Menstrual disorders, especially infrequent or absent periods
- Reduced fertility and interest in sex
- Personality changes or mood swings
- Bone loss— osteoporosis
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may be done to determine the level of cortisol and find a cause.
Blood tests, urine tests, and saliva tests may be done.
Imaging tests evaluate the pituitary and adrenal glands, and other internal structures. These may include:
Treatment of Cushing syndrome depends on the cause. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
- Gradual withdrawal of cortisone-type drugs under close medical supervision
- Surgical removal of tumor
- Surgical removal of part, all, or both adrenal glands
- Radiation therapy for some persistent tumors
- Drugs that decrease cortisol production or block the functioning of other adrenal products
Cushing's Support and Research Foundation http://www.CSRF.net
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca
Arnaldi G, Angeli A, Atkinson AB, et al. Diagnosis and complications of Cushing’s syndrome: a consensus statement. J Clin Endocrinolo Metabo. 2003;88(12):5593-5602.
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Cushing's syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/endocrine/cushings-syndrome/Pages/fact-sheet.aspx. Updated April 2012. Accessed March 5, 2018.
Diez JJ, Iglesias P. Pharmacological therapy of Cushing’s syndrome: drugs and indications. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2007;7(5):467-480.
Kirk LF Jr, Hash RB, Katner HP, Jones T. Cushing's disease: clinical manifestations and diagnostic evaluation. Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(5):1119-1127.
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Makras P, Toloumis G, Papadogias D, Kaltsas GA, Besser M. The diagnosis and differential diagnosis of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. Hormones. 2006;5(4):231-250.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Alan Drabkin, MD
- Review Date: 03/2018
- Update Date: 02/17/2016