Return to Index
(Cushing Disease; Hypercortisolism)
Cushing syndrome is too much of a hormone called cortisol in the blood. In normal doses, this hormone helps the body manage stress and infection. High levels over a long period of time can cause health problems.
High levels of this hormone may be caused by:
- Long-term use of corticosteroid hormones, such as cortisone or prednisone
- Excess production of cortisol from a:
|Pituitary and Adrenal Glands|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
This problem is more common in people who use corticosteroids to treat problems, such as:
Problems may be:
- Weight gain in the upper body and trunk
- Rounded face
- Severe fatigue or muscle weakness
- Easily bruised, thin skin
- Purple stretch marks
- Excess hair growth or acne in women
- Menstrual problems, especially irregular or absent periods
- Low fertility and interest in sex
- Personality changes or mood swings
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests, urine tests, and saliva tests to check a person's levels of cortisol.
Images may be taken to look at the pituitary and adrenal glands and at other internal structures. This may be done with:
Treatment of Cushing syndrome depends on the cause. Options are:
- Stopping or changing corticosteroids
- Surgical removal of a tumor
- Surgical removal of part, all, or both adrenal glands
- Radiation therapy to treat lasting tumors
- Drugs that decrease the amount of cortisol the body makes or block the way other adrenal products work
Cushing's Support and Research Foundation
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Cushing disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cushing-disease. Accessed October 22, 2020.
Cushing's syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/endocrine/cushings-syndrome/Pages/fact-sheet.aspx. Accessed October 22, 2020.
Nieman LK, Biller BM, et al. Treatment of Cushing's Syndrome: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Aug;100(8):2807-2831.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
- Review Date: 09/2020
- Update Date: 10/22/2020