Long-term excessive cortisol levels in the body can lead to the condition known as Cushing syndrome. This may be the result of taking medications known as glucocorticoids, which have similar effects to cortisol on the body, or an excess of cortisol produced by the body.
Some of the primary signs of Cushing syndrome, such as a round face, a fatty hump between the shoulders, and pink or purple stretch marks on the skin, can be brought on by an excess of cortisol. The Cushing syndrome may also result in hypotension or bone loss. It can occasionally result in type 2 diabetes.
Cushing syndrome treatments can reduce cortisol levels in the body and alleviate symptoms. The likelihood of recovery increases with the early initiation of treatment.
Symptoms of Cushing syndrome can vary depending on the level of extra cortisol.
- Cushing syndrome common symptoms
- Gaining weight in the trunk and having skinny arms and legs.
- Gaining weight on the face. This is known as moon face at times.
- A huge hunk situated amidst the shoulders. You may call this a buffalo hump.
- Stretch marks that are pink or purple on the breasts, thighs, hips, underarms, and stomach.
- Skin thin and fragile, prone to bruising.
- Wound healing is slow.
symptoms that females who have Cushing syndrome may encounter
- Dark, thick hair on the torso and face. We refer to this disorder as hirsutism.
- Periods that are irregular or that stop.
Men who have Cushing syndrome may have the following symptoms
- less desire for sex.
- decreased fertility.
- difficulties achieving an erection.
Other Cushing syndrome symptoms that may exist
- extreme fatigue.
- weakening of muscles.
- Anxiety, impatience, and depression.
- emotions that are difficult to regulate.
- difficulty focusing or recalling.
- unable to sleep.
- elevated blood pressure.
- Skin becoming darker.
- bone loss, which increases the risk of fractures.
- stunted development in kids.
When to visit a physician
If you experience Cushing syndrome symptoms, get in touch with your doctor, especially if you use glucocorticoids for an inflammatory bowel illness, asthma, or arthritis.
Excess cortisol in the body is the cause of Cushing syndrome. The adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol. It performs numerous additional crucial functions and aids in the body’s reaction to stress, such as:
- regulating the blood pressure.
- lessening the swelling.
- promoting healthy blood vessel and cardiac function.
- managing blood sugar levels.
- facilitating the body’s energy usage from food.
The role of glucocorticoid medicines (exogenous Cushing syndrome)
Taken in combination of glucocorticoid medications, Cushing syndrome can occur. These are frequently used to treat inflammatory conditions such asthma, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Glucocorticoids can be used to treat rashes on the skin, back pain, joint injuries, and many other conditions. They can also be used to prevent organ rejection following transplantation.
Glucocorticoids can be injected intravenously, applied topically, or inhaled through an inhaler. Cushing syndrome can be brought on by taking excessive doses of any glucocorticoid over an extended period of time.
Excessive production of cortisol by the body (endogenous Cushing syndrome)
The pituitary gland secretes a hormone that regulates the body’s cortisol production. Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) is the term for this. Certain tumors produce ACTH, which raises cortisol levels and may be the cause of Cushing syndrome. Adrenal gland issues can potentially impact cortisol levels and result in Cushing syndrome.
Cushing syndrome that manifests in this manner may result from:
- pituitary adenoma generating ACTH. Tumors that develop in the pituitary gland are known as pituitary adenomas. They are typically not malignant and are located around the base of the brain. Occasionally, these tumors produce excessive ACTH. The adrenal glands produce more cortisol as a result of this. Cushing disease is the term used when Cushing syndrome manifests in this manner. It is the most prevalent kind of endogenous Cushing syndrome and occurs more frequently in women.
- ectopic tumor that produces ACTH. An excessively ACTH-producing tumor very seldom develops in an organ that does not normally produce ACTH. We refer to this as ectopic ACTH production. It leads to excessive cortisol production in the body. These tumors are not usually malignant, although they can be. Usually, the thyroid, pancreas, lungs, or thymus gland contain them.
diseases or tumors of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands may overproduce cortisol due to problems with them. The most typical is an adrenal adenoma, a tumor located in the outer region of the adrenal gland. Some of these tumors produce too much cortisol, but most are not cancerous.
- Adrenocortical carcinomas, or cancerous tumors in the outer layer of the adrenal glands, are uncommon. But they can make cortisol and cause Cushing syndrome. Cushing syndrome can occasionally result from multiple growths in the adrenal glands that produce cortisol. Adrenal nodular hyperplasia is the term for this.
- Cushing syndrome in the family. Rarely, endocrine gland tumors—tumors on one or more hormone-producing glands—are inherited by individuals. If these tumors produce cortisol or ACTH, Cushing syndrome may occur.
Cushing syndrome can lead to consequences if left untreated, such as:
- Osteoporosis, or bone loss, can result in shattered bones.
- High blood pressure, also called hypertension.
- diabetes type 2.
- severe or numerous infections.
- loss of strength and muscle mass.