Your browser does not support javascript:   Search for gard hereSearch for news-and-events here.

Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Print friendly version

Cushing's syndrome


Other Names for this Disease

  • Adrenal cortex adenoma
  • Adrenal hyperfunction resulting from pituitary acth excess
  • Cushing syndrome
  • Ectopic ACTH syndrome
  • Ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone syndrome
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Overview

What is Cushing's syndrome?

What are the signs and symptoms of Cushing's syndrome?

What causes Cushing's syndrome?

Is Cushing's syndrome inherited?

What is Cushing's syndrome?

Cushing's syndrome is an endocrine disorder caused by prolonged exposure of the body's tissues to high levels of cortisol (a hormone produced by the adrenal gland). It most commonly affects adults between age 20 and 50 years. Signs and symptoms of Cushing's syndrome include upper body obesity, fatigue, muscle weakness, high blood pressure, backache, high blood sugar, easy bruising and bluish-red stretch marks on the skin. Affected women may also experience irregular menstrual periods and increased growth of body and facial hair. This condition may be caused by a variety of factors including long-term use of corticosteroid medications, tumors in the pituitary gland or adrenal adenomas.Treatment depends on the underlying cause, but may include decreasing the dosage of corticosteroids or surgery to remove tumors.[1][2]
Last updated: 11/28/2014

What are the signs and symptoms of Cushing's syndrome?

The signs and symptoms of Cushing's syndrome may include:[1]

  • Upper body obesity
  • Severe fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Backache
  • Elevated blood sugar
  • Easy bruising
  • Bluish-red stretch marks on the skin
  • Neurological issues

Women with Cushing's syndrome may also experience increased growth of facial and body hair, and menstrual periods may become irregular or cease.[1][2] Men may have decreased fertility, diminished sexual desire, and/or erectile dysfunction.[2]
Last updated: 11/30/2014

What causes Cushing's syndrome?

Cushing's syndrome is caused by long-term exposure of the body's tissues to cortisol, a hormone that is naturally produced by the adrenal gland. Exposure to too much cortisol can result from long-term use of corticosteriod medications used to treat inflammatory illnesses. Pituitary adenomas (benign tumors of the pituitary gland) or tumors of the adrenal gland may also cause cortisol imbalances.[1]
Last updated: 11/30/2014

Is Cushing's syndrome inherited?

Most cases of Cushing's syndrome are not inherited. However, Cushing's syndrome rarely occurs in inherited conditions characterized by the development of tumors of one or more endocrine gland. These conditions may include:[2]
  • Primary pigmented micronodular adrenal disease, in which children or young adults develop small cortisol-producing tumors of the adrenal glands,
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), in which hormone-secreting tumors of the parathyroid glands, pancreas, and pituitary develop. Cushing's syndrome in MEN1 may be due to pituitary or adrenal tumors.
Last updated: 11/30/2014

References
  1. NINDS Cushing's Syndrome Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. July 2013; http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cushings/cushings.htm.
  2. Cushing's Syndrome. National Endocrine and Metabolic. April 2012; http://www.endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/cushings/cushings.aspx. Accessed 2/26/2013.


Other Names for this Disease
  • Adrenal cortex adenoma
  • Adrenal hyperfunction resulting from pituitary acth excess
  • Cushing syndrome
  • Ectopic ACTH syndrome
  • Ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone syndrome
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.