High levels of this hormone may be caused by:
- Long-term use of corticosteroid hormones, such as cortisone or prednisone
Excess production of cortisol from a:
- Tumor or abnormality of the adrenal gland
- Tumor or abnormality of the pituitary gland. A person with a pituitary tumor has Cushing disease.
- Tumors of the lung , thyroid , kidney , pancreas , or thymus gland (rare)
|Pituitary and Adrenal Glands|
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Problems may be:
- Weight gain in the upper body and trunk
- Rounded face
- Severe fatigue or muscle weakness
- Easily bruised, thin skin
- Purple stretch marks
- Excess hair growth or acne in women
- Menstrual problems, especially irregular or absent periods
- Low fertility and interest in sex
- Personality changes or mood swings
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests, urine tests, and saliva tests to check a person's levels of cortisol.
Images may be taken to look at the pituitary and adrenal glands, and other internal structures. This may be done with:
- MRI scan
- CT scan
- Chest x-ray
- Bone density test
Treatment of Cushing syndrome depends on the cause. Options are:
- Stopping or changing corticosteroids
- Surgical removal of a tumor
- Surgical removal of part, all, or both adrenal glands
- Radiation therapy to treat lasting tumors
- Drugs that decrease the amount of cortisol the body makes or block the way other adrenal products work
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Cushing Disease; Hypercortisolism)
Cushing's Support and Research Foundation http://www.CSRF.net
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org
The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Cushing disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cushing-disease. Accessed October 22, 2020.
Cushing's syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/endocrine/cushings-syndrome/Pages/fact-sheet.aspx. Accessed October 22, 2020.
Nieman LK, Biller BM, et al. Treatment of Cushing's Syndrome: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Aug;100(8):2807-2831.