Cushing’s Syndrome (Hypercortisolism)

Cushing’s Syndrome (Hypercortisolism)

What is Cushing's syndrome?

When an abnormally high level of the hormone, cortisol, is present in the body, Cushing’s syndrome (also known as hypercortisolism or Cushing syndrome) can occur. Excess of this stress hormone can either occur on its own (when it is naturally produced in the body) or through overuse of corticosteroid medications. When occurring in excess, the body’s normal rhythm is thrown off, resulting in various ailments and placing a person at higher risk further complications, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and bone loss.

A collective set of changes to a person’s overall physical appearance and state of health in the body due to excess cortisol effectively characterises this condition. Changes can be significant and are regarded as serious. Cushing’s syndrome, named after a neurosurgeon from Yale, Dr Harvey Cushing, is a relatively rare hormonal disorder, but can generally be resolved with appropriate treatment. The earlier this condition is medically treated, the lower the risk of further, sometimes more complex complications.

Illustration showing the difference between normal and healthy adrenal glands.

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