Cushing syndrome is a condition, wherein there is excess production of the cortisol hormone in your body. This is caused due to a number of reasons and the most common reason is stated to be the use of corticosteroid medications. This condition is otherwise called as hypercortisolism or Cushing’s syndrome. Here are some details to know about this condition:
Signs and symptoms:
Different signs and symptoms might be experienced by people, when there is excess production of cortisol hormone in their body. Some of them include:
• Obesity and weight gain
• Bone loss
• Increased thirst
• Increased urination
• Muscle weakness
• Cognitive dysfunction
• Infections, cuts and insect bites that are taking longer to heal
In addition to these symptoms, women may experience unwanted hair growth and irregular or absence of menstrual period. When it comes to men, they may experience inability to make baby, loss of interest towards lovemaking and erectile dysfunction. In children, if they have higher production of cortisol hormone in their body, they will be overweight and their growth rate will also be slower.
What causes Cushing syndrome?
Cortisol hormone is produced by the adrenal glands and it is helpful for taking care of a number of functions in the human body like stress reaction, harmonizing the insulin effects, converting proteins, fats and carbohydrates to energy, bringing down the inflammatory response of the immune system and regulating cardiovascular functions and blood pressure. Higher level production of this hormone can be caused due to a number of reasons like:
• Depression or panic disorder
• Athletic training
• Higher level of stress in the final trimester of pregnancy
It is stated that the use of corticosteroid medications is the most common cause for Cushing syndrome. These medicines are prescribed for preventing rejection of transplanted organ. They are also used for treating diseases, wherein swelling is caused like arthritis and lupus. It is also caused due to high doses of injectable steroids given for relieving back pain.
Treatment for this condition:
Generally, treatment will rely on the underlying cause of the condition. The doctor may prescribe medications for bringing down the production of cortisol hormone and for relieving symptoms. If you are using corticosteroid medications, you will be prescribed lesser dosage of these medicines, but this should not be done by yourself without consulting your health care provider.
What are the effects of Cushing Syndrome?
If not given the right medications, this condition can cause the following:
• Bone fractures/bone loss
• Kidney stones
• Swelling of pituitary gland
• High blood pressure
• Muscle loss and weakness
How is Cushing Syndrome diagnosed?
There is not definitive test for diagnosing this condition. However, a thorough physical examination will be conducted and a review of your medical history and symptoms become important. Lab tests may be suggested for
• Round the clock urinary free cortisol examination
• Low-dose dexamethasone suppression examination
• Late night plasma cortisol and late-night salivary cortisol calculation.