Cushing's Disease Essay

672 words - 3 pages

Although Cushing’s syndrome is rare, some symptoms include: thin arms and legs, severe fatigue and muscle weakness, high blood pressure, high blood sugar (high blood glucose levels), easy bruising, upper body obesity (most commonly on the face), a round, red, or full face (moon face), acne or skin infections, purple marks (1/2 inch or more wide) on the skin of the abdomen, thighs, or breasts, and thin skin. Some symptoms vary by gender. Men can experience symptoms, such as decreased or no desire for sex or even impotence while women can experience excess hair growth on the face, neck, chest, abdomen, and thighs. Women’s menstrual cycles can also become irregular or stop completely. Just because a patient may experience one or two of the symptoms above does not mean that they have Cushing’s syndrome, but it may mean they need to seek medical attention for further testing.
Cushing's syndrome happens when tissues in the body are exposed to high levels of cortisol for too long. Cortisol is produced by the zona fasciculata of the adrenal cortex of the adrenal gland and is mainly used by the body to increase blood pressure. The hypothalamus, the main control center of the endocrine system, sends corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) to the anterior pituitary gland. CRH causes the pituitary to secrete ACTH (adrenocorticotropin), a hormone that stimulates the adrenal glands. When the adrenal glands receive the ACTH, they respond by releasing cortisol into the bloodstream. However, if something goes wrong with the adrenals or if the body incorrectly regulates them, cortisol production can become unbalanced. Some people develop Cushing's syndrome because they take glucocorticoids-steroid hormones that are chemically similar to cortisol, such as medications for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other inflammatory diseases. Others develop Cushing's syndrome because their bodies produce too much cortisol. Most cases of Cushing's syndrome are not inherited. However, some patients have special causes of Cushing's syndrome due to...

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