What Is Cushing's Syndrome

Updated on September 25, 2008
T.S. asks from Ogden, UT
8 answers

help mt 10 year old son has been having some health issues. When we started we went in for an eye checkup. I was talking to some friends about what was going on, someone was listening and said it sounds like the doctors are wondering about cushing's syndrome, so I googled but it is NINE pages long with a lot of information that I don't get it I guess my question is can someone put it into laymens term for me that won't overload my brain?

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So What Happened?

We would like to thank every one for their advice. We just didn't know what it is. We haven't talked yet to the doctor we just wanted to be prepared so when we did go back to the doctor we would understand what he was talking about. We go back to the doctor on October 14th, Thank you again. T.

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answers from Boise on

ok, hopefully I am able to help you... Cushing's Syndrome is where (hyperadrenocorticism) abnormally increased secretion of adrenocortical hormones are secondary to excessive (anterior) front pituitary secrection of (corticotropin) amino-acid hormone, with or without a pituitary (adenoma) tumor.

So it is an excessive increase in the amount of hormones being produced by the pituitary gland which could or could not be produced by a benign (non cancerous) tumor. Does that help?

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answers from Denver on

Hi T.! I'm sorry to hear that your son is having some health problems. First off - I encourage you not to jump the boat on a diagnosis based on what someone overheard or thinks it sounds like. If you are wondering what the doctor is thinking, I encourage you to call and ask. Better that than going in all directions.

good luck to you!!



answers from Denver on

Its basically a hormone problem. Basically one of your hormones causes you to create to much cortisol. that can throw off your metabolism and other functions and cause you to gain weight even regardless of diet and exercise. If your child has any weight issues I would definitely ask the doc more about it.




answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi T.,

Cushing syndrome can be a side effect of using steroids. I had two of my children on prednisone for many years. The symptoms include a "moon" face, caused by fluid retention, high blood pressure, weight gain and digestive issues. Managing the steroid doses will help this, but won't entirely make it go away.
Good luck, I hope this helped.




answers from Boise on

I'd just like to add that even if a doctor mentions it, it doesn't mean that your son has it. I had a specialist nearly convinced that I had some crazy sounding thing. He just told me a few things about it. I mentioned these things to a friend, and my genetics professor was listening. He said, "that sounds like ankylosing spondylitis." That didn't sound like what the doctor had called it, but I guess he didn't want to scare me. So I looked up ankylosing spondylitis (or however you spell it) and it was SO not what I was experiencing! It's a good thing, too, because it's not anything you'd want to have. Basically all of my future male children would be cripples. All the tests came back negative and he told me I had fibromyalgia instead.
So freaking out about something the doctor mentions (which I think is irresponsible on his part) is not a great thing. Don't freak out until he actually says he's diagnosed something.



answers from Denver on

This is a very simple medical definition of it. Seems there are very clear symptoms of this disorder.

Below are clear symptoms that can come up, does your son have these?

What are the signs and symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome?
Signs and symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome vary, but most people with the disorder have upper body obesity, a rounded face, increased fat around the neck, and relatively slender arms and legs. Children tend to be obese with slowed growth rates.

Other signs appear in the skin, which becomes fragile and thin, bruises easily, and heals poorly. Purple or pink stretch marks may appear on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, arms, and breasts. The bones are weakened, and routine activities such as bending, lifting, or rising from a chair may lead to backaches and rib or spinal column fractures.

Women with Cushing’s syndrome usually have excess hair growth on their face, neck, chest, abdomen, and thighs. Their menstrual periods may become irregular or stop. Men may have decreased fertility with diminished or absent desire for sex and, sometimes, erectile dysfunction.

Other common signs and symptoms include

severe fatigue
weak muscles
high blood pressure
high blood glucose
increased thirst and urination
irritability, anxiety, or depression
a fatty hump between the shoulders
Sometimes other conditions have many of the same signs as Cushing’s syndrome, even though people with these disorders do not have abnormally elevated cortisol levels. For example, polycystic ovary syndrome can cause menstrual disturbances, weight gain beginning in adolescence, excess hair growth, and impaired insulin action and diabetes. Metabolic syndrome—a combination of problems that includes excess weight around the waist, high blood pressure, abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, and insulin resistance—also mimics the symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome.




answers from Denver on

Cushings syndrome is a disease of the endocrine system which is the hormones that regulate our body functions. Not just sexual hormones. Cushings is found far more often (5-1) in women and usually is diagnosed in the 20s to 50s so I would be surprised to find this in your young son. What happens is you have cortisol in your body and this is what makes you store fat and protiens. Usually these are increased when you are stressed out and that is why you put on weight when you are stressed. In Cushings your body over secretes this cortisol and you end up having breakdown of the fat and protein stores in the body. When these fats break down they land in the wrong places like around your face and neck mostly. If your son is diabetic or obese then he is at a higher risk. The concerns are the physical appearance. It causes weight around the face and trunk but skinny arms and legs. The health issues are brittle bones and severe fatigue. There are issues with high blood pressure and some other things. Cushings is rare and there is more likely something else going on. I would not worry before you know exactly what is going on. I hope this helps. PS I am a nurse so not just giving you random information. Good luck and dont panic. Medicine is amazing in this day and age and everything can be treated and you just need to be strong and supportive of your son and continue to ask questions when you arent understanding. Dont just nod and be confused the best thing you can do for your son is ask question. Good Luck



answers from Salt Lake City on

Have you checked webMd? I've always liked the information there.

Aside from that, has any doctor mentioned Cushings, or is it just from another 'lay person'? It doesn't hurt to check it out, but unless it came from a doctor I wouldn't stress over it too much. The worst thing you can do is convince yourself that he has a certain disorder (which we tend to do - paying attention to the parts that fit and ignoring the parts that don't) and not listen to the doctors' diagnostics. So go ahead and check it out, but don't panic, and keep an open mind!

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