Cushing's syndrome describes the condition resulting from too much exposure to steroid hormones.
The commonest cause of Cushing's syndrome (apart from the use of synthetic steroids to treat other conditions) is Cushing's disease. This is a problem arising in the Pituitary gland caused by a tumour which overproduces a hormone called ACTH. This in turn stimulates the Adrenal glands to overproduce the steroid hormone Cortisol. Cushing's syndrome can also be caused by a small growth in one, or both, of the adrenal glands.
Cushing's is rare and is more often found in women than in men. It can affect all age groups, but the peak incidence is in middle age.
- behaviourial changes, depression and mood swings, occasionally psychological problems can be severe
- face tends to be rounder (moon face) and redder
- weight gain around the trunk (central obesity)
- muscle wasting and proximal myopathy (patients have difficulty standing from a seated position without use of arms)
- tendency to bruise easily
- appearance of red 'stretch marks' on the abdomen, similar to those which occur during pregnancy
- irregular periods (Oligomenorrhoea) or loss of normal menstrual function (Amenorrhoea) - females
- impotence - males
- reduced fertility
- decrease in sex drive
- increase in hair growth on the face and body (hirsutism)
- increase in blood pressure
- development of mild diabetes mellitus
Because Cushing's progresses slowly and gradually in most cases, it can go unrecognised for some time.
Resources available from The Pituitary Foundation
- Please download or order our Cushing's patient information booklet. We also have other publications which you may find useful e.g. Your Journey, Pituitary Surgery etc. Visit our booklets section for more information.
- If you'd like to talk with another Cushing's patient then we can put you in touch with one of our trained volunteers, please email email@example.com or call our Helpline on 0845 450 0375.
- Become a member and join our online forum to connect with others affected by Cushing's.
- You may want to go along to one of our Local Support Group meetings in your area and meet other pituitary patients, some of whom may be affected by Cushing's. Click here to find your local group.
- We often publish articles on Cushing's in our membership magazine, Pituitary Life. Articles include medical updates and patient stories. Click here to join online
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 February 2013 )