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CUSHING SYNDROME

When adrenal glands produce excessive amounts of corticosteroids in the body, it leads to Cushing’s syndrome. Cushing's syndrome is a collection of signs and symptoms due to prolonged exposure to corticosteroids.

Symptoms

The following are the most common symptoms of Cushing's syndrome. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Weight gain
  • Buffalo hump: fat deposit between shoulders
  • Round face: fat deposition in face
  • Striae on the skins 
  • Thinning arms and legs
  • Fragile and thin skin
  • Bone and muscle weakness
  • Severe fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Excess facial and body hair growth in women
  • Irregular menstrual cycles in women
  • Reduced sex drive and fertility and Erectile dysfunction in men

Causes

  • A pituitary gland tumor (pituitary adenoma)
  • An ectopic ACTH-secreting tumor
  • adrenal gland disease
  • Familial Cushing syndrome
  • External supply of steroids: taking of glucocorticoids prescribed by a health care practitioner

Diagnosis

In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, diagnostic procedures for Cushing's syndrome may include:

  • Urine and blood tests: for level of hormone in urine and blood
  • Specialized blood tests: Dexamethasone suppression test, CRH stimulation tests etc.
  • Imaging: CT, MRI to detect anomalies in pituitary and adrenal glands

Complications

  • Bone loss (osteoporosis)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Diabetes
  • Frequent or unusual infections
  • Loss of muscle mass and strength

Treatment

Treatment for Cushing's syndrome depends on its cause.

  • Reducing corticosteroid use
  • Surgery: may be needed to remove tumors or the adrenal glands.
  • Radiation therapy
  • Medications