What is Cortisol
At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center we feel that before discussing Cushing’s, we must first discuss cortisol.
Cortisol is a glucocorticoid (steroid) hormone which plays an important role in glucose and fat metabolism and reducing inflammation.
The hormone is also referred to as the “stress” or “flight-or-fight” hormone, as it, along with epinephrine (adrenaline) is released during “flight-or-fight” situations.
Cushing’s Syndrome is a disorder in which the level of the hormone cortisol increases in the body.
High cortisol causes weight gain around the abdomen, chest, face, and neck.
Cushing’s Syndrome is a rare condition affecting around 10-15 out of one million people every year.
It strikes adults between 20 and 50 years of age, but it can also occur in children. Cushing’s Syndrome is more prevalent in women than men, contributing to about 70 percent of all cases.
Cushing’s Syndrome is caused due to the following reasons:
People who take high doses of corticosteroid medicines for a long time may develop Cushing’s Syndrome.
Corticosteroids are usually prescribed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and to prevent rejection after organ transplantation.
Several medical conditions can trigger the adrenal gland to produce too much cortisol, including:
Various treatment options are available for Cushing’s Syndrome, depending on the causes of high cortisol.
If Cushing’s Syndrome is caused due to over-use of corticosteroids, your doctor at Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center will gradually reduce the dose of the medicine. The doctor will recommend the lowest possible dose of corticosteroids required to manage your disease.
If Cushing’s Syndrome is caused due to a tumor in the adrenal glands, pituitary gland, lungs, or pancreas, your doctor will suggest surgery to remove a tumor. It will reduce the production of cortisol hormones in the body. But after the surgery, patients will require hormone replacement therapy to maintain the levels of cortisol.
The doctor recommends radiation therapy if a tumor can not be removed via surgery or if a patient is unfit for surgery. In radiation therapy, small doses of radiation are given for six weeks, or a high dose of radiation is given all at once to destroy the tumor cells.
The doctor may prescribe medications such as Mitotane, Metyrapone, and Ketoconazole to reduce the production of cortisol. These medicines are used when other treatment options such as surgery and radiation therapy do not work.
After complete treatment, most patients observe improvements in the symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome and recover fully.