Excess cortisol from one or both adrenal glands is called Cushing syndrome. Long-term use of high levels of synthetic corticosteroids can cause extrinsic or iatrogenic Cushing syndrome.
What is Cushing syndrome?
Cushing syndrome is an endocrine disorder in which the body is exposed to high levels of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Most notable is obesity of the upper body and face. In most cases, Cushing syndrome is caused by the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. However, it can also have an internal cause, such as Cushing disease. Sources say that it is extremely rare, with 1 to 13 new cases per million people occurring each year.
What are the origins and symptoms of the disease?
Cushing syndrome is caused by overwhelming exposure of body tissues to steroid hormones, particularly cortisol. It is often caused by the use of synthetic corticosteroids for anti-inflammatory effects in the treatment of asthma and inflammatory conditions, or by oral ingestion in the form of sprays or ointments. However, it can be endogenous. This syndrome is caused by an acute release of cortisol from one or both adrenal glands. Abnormal cortisol levels cause a variety of symptoms. In most cases, weight gain and changes in appearance are evident. Other symptoms include thinning of the skin, stretch marks on the legs and bruising. The severe trauma caused by the functioning of cortisol in the brain cannot be ignored. Fatigue, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, poor concentration and depression can affect quality of life and lead to suicide. Other symptoms include irregular menstruation, delayed pregnancy and decreased sexual activity in men.
What is the treatment for Cushing syndrome?
The purpose of treatment for the Cushing syndrome is to regulate the hypersecretion of cortisol. If a medication is the cause of the Cushing syndrome, the endocrinologist resumes treatment for the cause. If the result is a tumour, it is treated with surgery or chemotherapy. If the tumour cannot be completely removed, cortisol inhibitors or ACTH inhibitors can be administered. However, this is difficult to do and the side effects can be significant, starting with the risk of kidney lesions.