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What is Cushing’s Syndrome?
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Cushing’s syndrome is defined as a disorder that is induced by the body’s exposure to an abundance of the hormone called cortisol. Cortisol affects all tissues and organs found in the human body. Collectively, these ramifications are known as Cushing’s syndrome.


Adrenal Tumors

This is one instance of an anomaly that transpires in the adrenal glands which can incite Cushing’s syndrome in individuals. The vast majority of these cases include non-cancerous tumors which are known as adrenal adenomas, which are responsible for the release of excess cortisol into the blood stream.

On the other hand, adrenocortical carcinomas, or adrenal cancers, are less common causes of Cushing’s syndrome. In principle, cancerous cells discharge significant levels of several adrenal based cortical hormones which include cortisol and adrenal androgens. Also, these agents are also responsible for the high concentration of hormones and the abrupt emergence of symptoms.

Familial Cushing’s Syndrome

Most cases of Cushing’s syndrome are not genetic in nature. In fact, there are individuals who may develop the syndrome owing to an inherited propensity to develop tumors in one or possibly multiple endocrine glands.

An instance of a hereditary condition is primary pigmented micro nodular adrenal disease, in which case children or young adults are affected by the development of cortisol producing tumors of the adrenal glands.

Furthermore, in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN 1), hormone disseminating tumors of the parathyroid glands, pancreas and pituitary gland may also transpire.

Pituitary Adenomas

Another common cause of Cushing’s syndrome is called pituitary adenomas. These are benign tumors of the respective gland which discharge augmented levels of ACTH, which results in excessive cortisol production.

This is first highlighted by Dr. Harvey Cushing and as the name suggests, the syndrome is inspired by his work. In his publication called the Pituitary Body and Its Disorders, he coined the terminology and cited that Cushing’s disease is the most frequent cause of the syndrome. It is extempore in nature and is responsible for approximately 70% of all cases.


The most prevalent indications of Cushing’s syndrome include gradual obesity and alterations to an individual’s skin. In general, signals depend on the levels of cortisol found in their body. For instance, if a person gains weight and fatty tissue deposits, specifically around their midsection, upper back and face as well, then this may be reason to consult a doctor. Of course, weight gain may occur for other reasons as well. However, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Furthermore, if an individual observes pink or in some cases, purple stretch marks on their skin, particularly in the abdominal region, thighs or breasts, then this is another potential indicator of Cushing’s syndrome.

Moreover, thinning and vulnerable skin that is easily bruised, extremely slow healing of any cuts, insect bites or infections sustained and acne are other symptoms of the syndrome.

To learn more about Cushing’s syndrome, make an appointment with Advanced Neurosurgery now!

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