Cushing's syndrome

Cushing's syndrome is one of the medical conditions that are hard to identify unless you are a medical expert. The condition is mostly confused with normal weight gain. It is a condition that occurs when the body produces the stress hormone called cortisone in large amounts. It could be a result of taking high dosages of corticosteroid medications. Cushing's syndrome is usually identified by common symptoms like the rounded face, upper body weight gain and many others.

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Cushing's syndrome Symptoms

There are many different symptoms that can identify Cushing's syndrome. The symptoms may vary from one patient to the other depending on their body. Some may show the signs when the condition is still at the early stages while others will show it at the late stages. These are some of the main symptoms of Cushing's syndrome:

  • thinning skin that bruises easily
  • cuts, insect bites, and infections that are slow to heal
  • acne
  • weight gain or obesity
  • fatty deposits, especially in the face, between the shoulders, the upper back, and midsection
  • bone loss
  • depression
  • stretch marks on the abdomen, breasts, arms, and thighs
  • fatigue
  • muscle weakness
  • glucose intolerance
  • high blood pressure
  • headache
  • cognitive dysfunction
  • anxiety, irritability
  • increased thirst
  • increased urination

Cushing's syndrome Causes

The main cause of Cushing's syndrome is high levels of cortisol which is stress hormone produced by the body. The excess production of this hormone may be triggered by several factors that can be controlled if the patient can follow physician’s direction. Mostly, the patient’s lifestyle is one of the factors that contribute to Cushing's syndrome. Bad eating habits and abuse of the drugs like steroids have been identified as one of the main causes of this condition.  

Here are some of the main causes of Cushing's syndrome:

  • High stress levels in the final trimester of pregnancy
  • Alcoholism
  • Athletic training
  • Malnutrition
  • Depression or panic disorders

Cushing's syndrome Diagnosis

Unlike many other medical conditions, Cushing's syndrome does not have any definitive single test that can diagnose it. In many instances, the physician will have to analyze the patient medical history and also identify if the condition has some inheritance patterns. In short, diagnosing Cushing's syndrome involves thorough physical examinations.

Laboratory tests that can be used in diagnosing this condition include;

  • 24-hour urinary free cortisol test
  • Midnight plasma cortisol measurement
  • Late-night salivary cortisol measurement
  • Low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (blood test)

These are the tests that can determine the cause of Cushing's syndrome:

  • Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) stimulation
  • Imaging test- CT scan or the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Cushing's syndrome Treatment

Treating Cushing's syndrome is not a big problem as long as the cause has been identified. The doctor will first have to figure out why your body is having too much cortisol hormone. Sometimes, the patient’s history will be crucial in determining the best treatment. If you are taking too much corticosteroid medications, you will be taken through a program to lower the drug’s consumption or reducing the dosage. You may also be required to change the drug if the condition is worsening. These are the common ways through Cushing's syndrome can be treated:

  • Changing corticosteroids medication or the dosage
  • If it is a tumor, surgical operation may be necessary to remove it
  • Radiation therapy
  • medication

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