What is it?

Cushing's syndrome is the collection of signs and symptoms related to abnormally high levels of corticosteroids, such as the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands, located above your kidneys, one on each side. Normally, the hormone ACTH is released from the pituitary gland when necessary to stimulate the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands.
Cortisol plays a role in different processes in your body; it helps regulate blood pressure, immune response, metabolism, stress response and more.
There are many reasons for excess cortisol, among them:
* the use of corticosteroid medications
* ACTH-producing tumors in the pituitary gland or other sites in your body.
* cortisol-producing tumors in the adrenal glands
* Overgrowth of the adrenal glands (adrenal hyperplasia)

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Signs & symptoms

signs and symptoms may include:
* weight gain and fatty deposits, especially in the face (causing a round, moon-shaped face), and between the shoulders and the upper back (causing a buffalo hump)
* purple stretch marks on the breasts, arms, abdomen, and thighs
* skin that bruises easily
* acne
* fatigue
* muscle weakness
* high blood sugar
* increased thirst and urination
* osteoporosis
* high blood pressure (hypertension)
* a headache
* mood swings, anxiety, irritability and depression
* an increased incidence of infections


Diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome, and the cause for it, may be established by the following:
* medical history and physical examination: Your doctor will ask questions about symptoms, any health conditions you may have, and any medications you may be prescribed. They’ll also perform a physical exam where they’ll look for signs of cushing's syndrome
* 24-hour urinary test to measure cortisol levels
* cortisol levels measurement in the saliva late at night
* dexamethasone suppression test: you’ll be given a dose of dexamethasone late in the evening. Your blood will be tested for cortisol levels in the morning after.
* Blood tests for ACTH levels.
* Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) stimulation test: In this test, a shot of CRH is given and ACTH and cortisol levels are measured afterwards
* imaging studies like CT or MRI


Treatment depends on the cause for your cushing's syndrome, and may include:
* If you use corticosteroids, a change in medication or dosage may be necessary.
* surgery: removal of the adrenal glands or removal of a tumor that is causing your symptoms
* medications

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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