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Cushing's Syndrome - Know Reasons Behind It!

Reviewed by
Dr. Sanjoy Paul 86% (10 ratings)
MBBS, Fellowship in Diabetology, PG in Diabetology
Endocrinologist, Hyderabad  •  20 years experience
Cushing's Syndrome  - Know Reasons Behind It!

Cushing’s syndrome occurs due to abnormally high levels of the hormone cortisol. This can happen for a variety of reasons. The most common cause is overuse of corticosteroid medications.

Causes:

Your adrenal glands produce cortisol. It helps with a number of your body’s functions, including:

  1. regulating blood pressure and the cardiovascular system

  2. reducing the immune system’s inflammatory response

  3. converting carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy

  4. balancing the effects of insulin

  5. responding to stress

Your body may produce high levels of cortisol for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. high-stress levels, including stress related to an acute illness, surgery, injury, or pregnancy, especially in the final trimester

  2. athletic training

  3. malnutrition

  4. alcoholism

  5. depression, panic disorders, or high levels of emotional stress

The most common cause of Cushing’s syndrome is the use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, in high doses for a long period. High doses of injectable steroids for treatment of back pain can also cause this syndrome.

Other causes include:

  1. a pituitary gland tumor in which the pituitary gland releases too much adrenocorticotropic hormone, which is also known as Cushing’s disease

  2. ectopic ACTH syndrome, which causes tumors that usually occur in the lung, pancreas, thyroid, or thymus gland

  3. an adrenal gland abnormality or tumor

Symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome:

The most common symptoms of this condition are:

  • weight gain
  • obesity
  • fatty deposits, especially in the midsection, the face and between the shoulders and the upper back (causing a buffalo hump)
  • purple stretch marks on the breasts, arms, abdomen, and thighs
  • thinning skin that bruises easily
  • skin injuries that are slow to heal
  • acne
  • fatigue
  • muscle weakness
  • increased thirst
  • increased urination
  • bone loss
  • depression
  • an increased incidence of infections

Women may also notice extra facial and body hair, as well as absent or irregular menstruation.

Men may also have:

Children with this condition are generally obese and have a slower rate of growth.

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