Exposure to high level of the hormone cortisol for a long period of time may result in Cushing’s syndrome. This condition is also known as hypercortisolism, hyperadrenocorticism or hypercorticism. Besides humans, this problem can also appear and it is quite common among horses and Cushing's disease also affects dogs. Cats are rarely affected.
Similar condition is Cushing’s disease. This term describes just one very specific cause of the problem, when the person is suffering from the tumor in the pituitary gland. This tumor is responsible for excess production of hormone ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) and leading to increased level of cortisol in the body.
Cushing’s Disease Symptoms
People suffering from Cushing’s disease are commonly seen to experience progressive weight gain and certain specific skin changes. These patients tend to accumulate the fat in the upper back, between the shoulders (called buffalo hump) and the tummy. Their face rounds, looking like the moon (thus called moon face). Many of Cushing’s patients suffer from acne, thinning of the skin and easy bruising, but also from some pink or purple stretch marks on the skin. These stretch marks are called striae and they can appear on different parts of the body, such as arms, breasts, abdomen or the thighs. Another specific symptom associated with Cushing’s disease is slow healing of the wounds, cuts, infections or even some skin bites.
Women may additionally suffer from hirsuitism – increased amount or thickening of the hair on the face and body, as well as from irregular or completely absent menstruation. Men may have headaches, muscle weakness, fatigue, bone loss and increased risk for fractures due to this disease. Also, men are more commonly exposed to anxiety, depression, irritability, loss of emotional control and some cognitive problems. They could experience worsening of preexisting or development of hypertension, as well as some glucose intolerance and diabetes because of the Cushing’s disease.
How to Prevent and Treat Cushing’s Disease?
There are no specific methods for prevention of Cushing’s disease. Awareness of the symptoms associated with this disease is found to be the most crucial element in order to identify and treat the problem in early stages.
The treatment depends on the cause of the problem. Corticosteroid medications which have caused this syndrome are usually decreased under some medical supervision, while pituitary or adrenal tumor requires surgery.
To enhance your recovery from this disease, doctors advise sensible eating, using nutritious and wholesome food, with plenty of calcium and vitamin D. Take care of your body and soothe aches and pains you might have, but increase your activities slowly. Monitor your mental health and if you happen to notice any signs of depression, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor. Your brain may also need some exercise, so engage in math problems or crosswords to recover and improve its function.