Cushing’s syndrome is a collection of symptoms that result from prolonged exposure to cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone, produced in the adrenal gland, and released in response to stress. Cortisol functions to increase blood sugar. The symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome may include high blood pressure, abdominal obesity with thin arms and legs, red stretch marks on the skin, a rounded, reddish face, a fat lump that develops between the shoulders, weak muscles and bones, acne, and fragile skin.
Most cases of Cushing’s syndrome develop from either an excessive use of a cortisol-based medication, such as prednisone, or a tumor that causes excessive cortisol production in the adrenal gland. Most cases of Cushing’s syndrome can be treated. In cases resulting from excess medication, the remedy involves the slow stoppage of the medication. In case where the disease results from adrenal adenoma, the gland is simply removed via surgery. Elevate cortisol levels can also result from various cognitive conditions, including depression and anxiety, that produce excess cortisol.
Cases of Cushing’s syndrome affect two to three million people each year, often striking between the ages of 20 and 50. Women are three times more likely than men to develop Cushing’s syndrome. It is named after Harvey Cushing, an American neurosurgeon who first described the disease in 1932. Interestingly, Cushing’s syndrome is also known to occur in other animals, including cats, dogs, and horses.