Weight gain can be a key predictor of Cushing syndrome, especially if it’s accompanied by a red, puffy, rounded face – nicknamed “moon face”. Symptoms of the condition can be gradual, so do be aware of body changes. The NHS pointed out that another sign of too much cortisol is the presence of a “buffalo hump”. This is when there’s a build-up of fat on the back of the neck and shoulders.
In addition, there may be more fat on the chest and tummy while the arms and legs remain slim.
Other symptoms include skin that bruises easily, large purple stretch marks, and a weakness in the upper arms and thighs.
Furthermore, Cushing syndrome may lead to a low libido, fertility issues, depression and mood swings.
Cushing syndrome can also cause high blood pressure, so it’s a very serious condition to get under control.
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Should Cushing syndrome be diagnosed, it can get better with treatment, although it may take a long time to recover fully.
Treatments can include surgery to remove tumours, radiotherapy or medications.
The Pituitary Foundation explained that cortisol is made by the adrenal glands, located above each kidney.
Another possible cause of too much cortisol is taking steroids, such as prednisolone for asthma, arthritis or colitis.
The NHS explained that steroid tablets contain a man-made version of cortisol.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH) said Cushing syndrome could be the cause behind type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Health complications of Cushing syndrome are rife, such as:
- Heart attack and stroke
- Blood clots in the legs and lungs
- Bone loss and fractures
- High blood pressure
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels
- Depression or other mood changes
- Memory loss or trouble concentrating
- Insulin resistance and prediabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
“Although Cushing’s syndrome can usually be cured, it can be fatal if not treated,” warned the NIH.
If the Cushing syndrome is caused by steroids, the steroid dose will be gradually reduced or stopped, said the NHS.
Steroids can come in different forms, such as tablets, syrups, liquids, inhalers and nasal sprays.
Steroids may be used to treat:
- Hay fever
- Tennis elbow
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
“Speak to your doctor about the benefits and risks of the different treatment options,” said the national health body.