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Signs and Symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s Syndrome is a hormonal disorder brought about by high levels of the hormone cortisol circulating in the body for a prolonged period of time. The most common cause for Cushing’s Syndrome is taking oral corticosteroid drugs. The condition can also occur  when the body itself makes too much cortisol. Cushing’s Syndrome is most common between the ages of 20 and 50. It is relatively rare, and affects 10 – 15 people per million per year. We have put together a list of common signs and symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome below:

The Common Signs and Symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome are:

  • Rapid weight gain, particularly in the trunk and in the face
  • Fatty tissue deposits between the shoulder blades (buffalo hump), in the face (moon face), and in the midsection
  • Thin arms and legs
  • Pink or purple stretch marks on the thighs, arms, and abdomen
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Dry hands
  • Excess sweating
  • Facial male-pattern hair growth
  • Skin that bruises easily
  • Acne
  • Slow healing of cuts and insect bites
  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods
  • Insomnia
  • Reduced libido
  • Impotence
  • Severe fatigue
  • Weak muscles
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Bone loss
  • Cognitive disabilities

If you experience any of the above signs and symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome, especially if you are taking oral corticosteroid medications for autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s Disease, arthritis or asthma, see your doctor for an evaluation.

Diagnosis of Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s Syndrome is often difficult to diagnose, as many other conditions share similar signs and symptoms. Your doctor may suspect Cushing’s Syndrome if you have been taking corticosteroid medication for a long time.

The most specific diagnostic test for Cushing’s Syndrome is the 24 Hour Urinary Free Cortisol test. Another test recently approved by the FDA is a cortisol saliva test, which measures cortisol levels late at night. People with Cushing’s Syndrome have elevated cortisol levels even at night, whereas in people without Cushing’s Syndrome, cortisol levels drop throughout the evening.

Once Cushing’s Syndrome has been diagnosed, other tests such as imaging tests are used to pinpoint where the excess cortisol is coming from. CT scans or MRI’s can detect tumors on the pituitary and adrenal glands.

Books for People with Signs and Symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s Syndrome: Causes, Tests, and Treatments
John Hewitt M.A.
Zebra: A Patient’s Guide to Cushing’s Disease
Ann Nicola

The Cushing’s Syndrome Diet
Stan Underhill
21st Century Complete Medical Guide to Adrenal Gland Disorders, Cushings Syndrome, ACTH, Cortisol, CRH, Authoritative CDC, NIH, and FDA Documents, Clinical References, and Practical Information for Patients and Physicians (CD-ROM)
PM Medical Health News

Cushing’s Syndrome Resources

General Patient Resources

  • Medicine Net . com

Learn about Cushing’s syndrome, a hormonal disorder caused by high levels of cortisol. Symptoms include obesity, a rounded face, increased fat around the face, and more.

  • Better Medicine

Information Including Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Causes, Videos, Forums, and local community support. Find answers to health issues you can trust.

  • MD Junction

Discussions, Q&A and friends dealing with Cushing’s Disease.

  • Daily Strength

Cushing’s Syndrome support group.

  • Cushing’s Help and Support

Welcome to Cushings Help Organization, Inc.. This site provides information, support, RSS feeds, news, and education for people with Cushing’s or other endocrine disorders.

Medical Resources

  • Mayo Clinic

Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, treatment of this disorder caused by excess cortisol.

  • Medline Plus

A service of the US National Library of Medicine.

  • Pub Med Health

Reveiws causes, incidence, risk factors, symptoms, treatment, prognosis and complications.