February 20, 2020
cushing syndrome

Cushing’s Syndrome – What happens when you live under stress for a long time?

Cushing’s syndrome is a disease that deals entirely with cortisol, the stress hormone. Whenever you live under stress for too long and there’s too much of cortisol in your body, the excess hormone can damage the other systems of the body. Though it may take a bit of time to ease the symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome, but in most cases, this disease gets cured with treatment. This condition has got a medical name- hypercortisolism and it seems to be more common among women as compared with men. It mostly occurs in people in between the ages of 25 and 40 when stress levels are the highest.

Common symptoms and signs of Cushing Syndrome

Although the symptoms and signs of Cushing syndrome may vary according to the level of excessive cortisol, yet there are few common symptoms as follows:

  • Deposits of fatty tissue leading to weight gain, especially around the upper back, midsection, in the face and in between the shoulders forming a buffalo hump
  • Purple or pink stretch marks on the thigh, abdomen, arms and breasts
  • Skin gradually gets thinner and more fragile making it vulnerable to bruises
  • Burst of acne and
  • Slow healing of infections, cuts and insect bites

Women might experience few other symptoms and signs of Cushing syndrome like:

  • More visible and sometimes thicker facial and body hair
  • Absent or irregular menstrual periods

Similarly, men can also get few specific symptoms of this disorder like:

  • Decreased fertility
  • Decreased libido and
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)

Apart from the above mentioned gender-specific symptoms, some other signs to stay aware of are:

  • Weak muscles
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Lack of control over emotions
  • Anxiety, depression and irritability
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure
  • Bone loss sometimes leading to fractures
  • Skin pigmentation
  • Impaired growth among children

What are the potential causes of Cushing’s syndrome?

When there is too much of cortisol in your body for a very long time, you may get Cushing syndrome. If you don’t know where cortisol comes from, it is released from the adrenal glands that are perched on the upper portion of the kidneys.

However, the most common reason behind the occurence of this disease is medicines like glucocorticoids, also known as prednisone or steroids. Such steroids written in prescriptions are utilized for health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, post an organ transplant or lupus. They are anti-inflammatory medicines and if you take them for too long a time, you may get Cushing syndrome.

Sometimes, a tumor may occur in your pituitary gland which is found at the base of human brain or a tumor in the adrenal glands can even make your body release too much of cortisol which can again lead to Cushing syndrome.

This condition isn’t one that is hereditary but there are few rare cases where people develop such disorders from their genes.

So, if you’re taking corticosteroid medicines to treat any condition like asthma or inflammatory bowel disease, you should immediately contact your doctor even before you get symptoms of Cushing syndrome.

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