(Cushing's Disease; Hypercortisolism)
DefinitionCushing's syndrome is a hormone disorder. Cortisol, in normal doses, helps the body manage stress and infection. However, these high levels over a long period of time can cause several health problems.
CausesCushing's syndrome is caused by extended exposure to a hormone called cortisol. Prolonged or excess exposure to cortisol may be caused by:
- Long-term use of corticosteroid hormones such as cortisone or prednisone
- Excess production of cortisol by:
- Tumor or abnormality of the adrenal gland.
- Tumor or abnormality of the pituitary gland. In the case of a pituitary tumor, it is called Cushing's disease
- Rarely, tumors of the lungs, thyroid, kidney, pancreas, or thymus gland.
|Pituitary and Adrenal Glands|
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Risk FactorsFactors that may increase your chance of Cushing's syndrome include:
SymptomsCushing's syndrome may cause:
- Weight gain of the upper body and trunk
- Rounded face
- Severe fatigue or muscle weakness
- Easily bruised, thinner skin
- Purple stretch marks
- Excess hair growth or acne in women
- Menstrual disorders, especially infrequent or absent periods
- Reduced fertility and interest in sex
- Personality changes or mood swings
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