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Cushing's Syndrome

RGV Endocrine Center -  - Endocrinology, Diabetes, Thyroid, Hormone & Weight Loss Specialist

RGV Endocrine Center

Endocrinology, Diabetes, Thyroid, Hormone & Weight Loss Specialists located in McAllen, TX

The first signs of Cushing’s syndrome are often obvious. You notice weight gain in your abdomen, an abnormally round face, and/or a fatty hump between your shoulders. At RGV Endocrine Center in McAllen, Texas, Gloria Ortiz, MD, FACE, ECNU and her team have helped many patients overcome Cushing’s syndrome with customized treatments targeting the underlying cause. If you have questions about your symptoms or need expert help with hormone problems, call the office.

Cushing's Syndrome

What is Cushing’s syndrome?

Cushing’s syndrome is a hormonal disorder caused by high blood levels of cortisol over a long period of time. The most common cause of Cushing’s syndrome is taking corticosteroids. 

You can also develop Cushing’s syndrome when your adrenal glands produce too much cortisol due to a tumor or problems in the pituitary gland. Chronic stress also leads to high cortisol.

When you face a stressful or dangerous situation, your adrenal glands automatically release cortisol. Normally, cortisol returns to normal levels once the stress is over. If you have ongoing stress, however, cortisol levels stay abnormally high.

What symptoms develop if I have Cushing’s syndrome?

In addition to its role in the stress response, cortisol has other jobs in your body. It regulates metabolism, fights inflammation, influences your memory, and affects your blood pressure, to name a few.

Cortisol affects nearly every part of your body. As a result, high cortisol levels can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Weight gain
  • Easy bruising
  • Thin arms and legs
  • Exaggerated facial roundness
  • Increased fat around your neck
  • Fatty hump between your shoulders
  • Wide stretch marks on your abdomen, thighs, and arms
  • Thin, fragile skin
  • Slow-healing cuts
  • Acne
  • Fatigue
  • Weak muscles
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Headaches

Women may grow visible body and facial hair and have irregular menstrual periods. Men may notice a loss of libido and have erectile dysfunction.

What complications might develop due to Cushing’s syndrome?

The longer Cushing’s syndrome goes untreated, the higher your chances of developing complications, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Frequent infections
  • Bone loss (osteoporosis)
  • Peptic ulcer disease

Your risk of having a heart attack also increases if you have untreated Cushing’s syndrome.

How is Cushing’s syndrome treated?

After a physical exam, your provider at RGV Endocrine Center runs diagnostic testing such as bloodwork to verify your cortisol levels. Then they develop an individualized treatment plan to restore normal cortisol levels and treat any underlying health problems.

Your treatment plan may include taking cortisol-reducing medications or slowly tapering down corticosteroids and replacing them with an alternative treatment. If you have a tumor, you may need surgery to remove it.

Your provider at RGV Endocrine Center may also help you find ways to manage your stress and make lifestyle changes that can help prevent cortisol overproduction.

To learn more about Cushing’s syndrome, call RGV Endocrine Center to schedule an appointment today.