Cushing's syndrome is a medical condition that occurs when the body is exposed to higher than usual cortisol levels for an extended period. As a result, it is also called hypercortisolism. The cause of the excess cortisol can be internal or external. Although there may be a genetic predisposition to developing this condition, doctors do not consider it to run in families. Thankfully, it is possible to see significant improvement in Cushing's syndrome symptoms. The earlier this condition is caught, the better recovery is. The only way to improve Cushing's syndrome is to reduce the amount of cortisol in the body. What symptoms a patient will experience depends significantly on the amount of excess cortisol they are dealing with. Get to know some of the most common ways of spotting Cushing's syndrome now.
Fatty Deposits In The Body
A hump in between the shoulder blades is a telltale sign of Cushing's syndrome. It is often what clues doctors into what is happening with their patient. This lump is sometimes referred to as a 'buffalo's hump.' Fat deposits can occur in other places as well. Developing an overly rounded 'moon face' is another symptom of this condition. The reason fat deposits itself in particular areas with Cushing's syndrome is directly related to high cortisol. On top of being considered unattractive, these fatty deposits can elevate an individual's risk for heart disease and diabetes. Although there are many symptoms associated with this condition, fatty deposits in the body are often what prompt patients to seek medical attention.
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Obesity And Weight Gain
Cortisol is partially responsible for regulating the way the body turns food into usable energy. It makes sense that when cortisol is out of whack, obesity and weight gain can follow. Cortisol is also something the body generates when an individual is feeling stressed out. A widespread way in society to deal with stress is to overeat, adding to the weight gain issue. As the cortisol levels rise, so does the amount of insulin. The higher insulin will cause a drop in blood pressure, causing the body to crave foods high in fat and sugar. Metabolism is affected by excess cortisol as well. This is because hormones, like cortisol, control it. It is easy to see why the higher levels associated with Cushing's syndrome can cause weight gain. Until the cortisol levels are controlled, it is almost impossible for a person with this condition to lose weight.
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Having Cushing's syndrome may eventually lead to pre-diabetes, or even full-blown diabetes, if not addressed promptly. This is because of the elevation of blood glucose that comes with having excess cortisol. As previously mentioned, the excess levels of cortisol can cause the individual to seek out sugary foods. It is a well-known fact there is a strong link between type II diabetes and eating too many sweets. The reason cortisol is produced when the body is under stress is to help prepare it for the flight-or-fight response. It releases large amounts of glucose, which acts as the energy needed to respond to the situation. When daily stresses such as work and relationships cause the increase in glucose, it does not get burned off. This leads to a build up in the body, which eventually leads to glucose intolerance.
It's time to learn about the next symptom of Cushing's syndrome.
High Blood Pressure
Cortisol plays many important roles in the body, one of which is to help regulate blood pressure. When cortisol is present in excessive levels, it can have a negative impact on cardiovascular health. One of the dangers of untreated Cushing's syndrome is developing dangerously high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Having high blood pressure is one of the most common side effects with Cushing's syndrome, and happens to roughly eighty percent of adults who develop it. Many patients who actually have Cushing's syndrome are misdiagnosed with hypertension initially. Anyone who suspects this may have happened to them should request their doctor test their blood, saliva, and urine for excessive levels of cortisol.
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Easily Bruised Skin
When present in high-levels, cortisol can actually start to break down some essential dermal proteins in the skin. As a result, the patient may notice they have easily bruised skin all of a sudden. Cortisol has also been known to weaken small blood vessels, another major contributor for skin issues with Cushing's syndrome. When a patient does not seek treatment, their skin will eventually develop a sickly, paper-thin appearance. When an individual has Cushing's syndrome, they may also notice they do not heal from minor cuts and scrapes as easily, and they may also be developing infections in these skin wounds. The skin is weaker overall and has difficulty both protecting and healing itself. Although not always, Cushing's syndrome can also cause discoloration of the skin. They usually show up on the face, shoulders, neck, and upper torso. Even acne can result from excess cortisol.