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How the Cushing Syndrome is Related to Weight Gain

  By posted Jan 29th 2012
Healthy Living

Understanding Cushing Syndrome

If you are somebody who is struggling form high blood pressure, obesity (particularly around your neck and stomach), anxiety and related health conditions, then you might be suffering from the cushing syndrome. It is commonly believed that Cushing’s disease often goes undiagnosed by many health experts, because of its case-specific symptoms. It is a relatively rare condition, commonly affecting adults aged between 20 to 50. Today, Dr Kapil Kocchar, Senior Consultant for Minimally Invasive Surgery and Bariatric Surgery at Artemis Health Institute, tells us about the Cushing Syndrome in detail...

Overview of Cushing Syndrome:
Cushing syndrome is a disorder, which takes place when the body is extensively exposed to more than normal levels of the hormone cortisol, a hormone that your adrenal gland makes. It may also occur if you take too much cortisol or other steroid hormones. Also known as hypercortisolism, crushing syndrome is a rare condition and can be cured easily if once detected. 

Symptoms of Cushing Syndrome:
Most people with cushing syndrome will have:

 

  • Upper body obesity (above the waist) and thin arms and legs.
  • Round, red, full face (moon face).
  • Slow growth rate in children.
  • Acne or skin infections.
  • Purple marks (1/2 inch or more wide) called striae on the skin of the abdomen, thighs, and breasts.
  • Thin skin with easy bruising.
  • Backache, which occurs with routine activities.
  • Bone pain or tenderness.
  • Collection of fat between the shoulders (buffalo hump).
  • Thinning of the bones, which leads to rib and spine fractures.
  • Weak muscles.
  • Women will have excess hair growth on the face, neck, chest, abdomen, and thighs or their menstrual cycle becomes irregular or stops.
  • Men may have decreased fertility, no desire for sex or impotence.


Other symptoms that may occur with this disease:

  • Mental changes, such as depression, anxiety, or changes in behavior
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased thirst and urination


Causes of Cushing Syndrome:
Cushing syndrome may be caused by taking too much corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone and prednisolone (this is the commonest cause). These drugs are used to treat conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Other people develop cushing syndrome because their bodies produce too much cortisol, a hormone normally made in the adrenal gland. 


Diagnosing Cushing syndrome:
For diagnosing cushing syndrome, a high degree of clinical suspicion is required in early stages but later features are so suggestive that one look at a patient of cushing syndrome and you never forget that. However, laboratory plays an important role in diagnosing the disease as well as its cause. Commonly, blood sugar and white blood cell counts may be high. Potassium level may be low. High cholesterol, including high triglycerides and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) may also be present.

Treatment of Cushing Syndrome:
If you cannot stop taking the medication because of disease, your high blood sugar, high cholesterol levels, and bone thinning or osteoporosis must be closely monitored. Cushing syndrome caused by a pituitary tumor or tumor that releases ACTH calls for surgery to remove the tumor. Radiation after removal of a pituitary tumor  is also required in some cases. You may need cortisol replacement therapy after surgery, and possibly continued throughout your life. However, if the tumor cannot be removed, take medications to help block the release of cortisol.

*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images

 

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