Cushing’s syndrome is a hormonal disorder that occurs when a person is exposed to excessive cortisol hormone over a long time. This condition is also sometimes called Generally such a condition occurs when a person goes through long term use of oral corticosteroid. The situation arises when the body starts making more cortisol than required.Here are the cushing’s syndrome: causes, symptoms & treatments.
Why is Cortisol Necessary?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. The main job of this hormone is to reduce stress. It does this function by increasing blood sugar and suppressing the immune system of the body.
It also aids in the metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrates. But in the process it also decreases the formation of bone. Cortisol production is increased between the 30th and 32nd week of pregnancy when it aids in maturation of the lungs of the fetus.
Causes of Cushing’s Syndrome
The common causes of Cushing’s syndrome are overuse of corticosteroid medications like prednisone which are used for treatment of various conditions like and also as immunosuppressant drug. However, that is not always the case as sometimes the body starts abnormal behavior and produces cortisol more than required by the body.
The commonest of such disorders is pituitary adenoma. Such adenomas are non-cancerous tumors in the pituitary glands which start secreting increased amount of ACTH (adrenocorticotrpoin) or the hormone that triggers cortisol release by the adrenal glands. Such a condition is most of the times seen in women and this particular condition is also called Cushing’s disease.
Sometimes similar tumors can occur outside the pituitary gland and still cause excess secretion of ACTH. Often lung tumor can cause almost half of these cases and is seen mostly in men. Tumors of the adrenal gland are also responsible and seen mostly in people over 40 years of age. Cancerous growth in the adrenal glands can also cause Cushing’s syndrome but is it the rarest of causes.
Symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome
The commonest symptom of Cushing’s syndrome is obesity and changes in the skin quality. The person affected with the syndrome turns obese gradually and the fat deposits are generally seen in the face, shoulders, upper back and mid section.
Pink and purple stretch marks are noticed on the abdomen, breasts, arms and thighs. The skin becomes thin and gets bruised easily. Healing of cuts and wounds slow down and the person develops acne. While the women experience abnormal growth of facial and body hair and irregular menstruation, the men face decrease in libido, fertility and
The people suffering from Cushing’s syndrome also feel weakness of muscle, fatigue, high blood sugar, anxiety, depression, irritability, loss of emotional control and loss of bone mass. Weakening of bones can go to such extent that the person may face difficulty even when getting up from chair or bending to pick up something.
Treatment of Cushing’s Syndrome
The basic treatment of Cushing’s syndrome is decreasing the secretion of cortisol. For this the easiest method is stopping the uses of corticosteroid. In patients who are using it, abrupt stopping can lead to complications. So it is best for the doctor to control the withdrawal of the steroid.
However, when the cause is a tumor then the only way is to remove it. Generally medication, radiation or surgery is used to do it depending on the condition of the tumor. Sometimes medications like ketoconazole, metyrapone and mitotane are also used to treat Cushing’s syndrome.