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Cushing's syndrome

Cushing's syndrome, also known as hypercortisolism, is a rare endocrine disorder caused by chronic exposure of the body's tissues to excess levels of cortisol—a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal gland. Neurological symptoms include muscle weakness and difficulties with memory and concentration.

Common symptoms of Cushing's syndrome include:

  • Upper body obesity
  • Severe fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Backache
  • Elevated blood sugar
  • Easy bruising
  • Bluish-red stretch marks on the skin

    In women, there may be increased growth of facial and body hair, and menstrual periods may become irregular or stop completely. Treatments for the disorder are available but Cushing's syndrome can be fatal if not treated.

    Cushing's syndrome most often affects adults but can occur in children. It affects about as three times as many women as men.

    How can I or my loved one help improve care for people with Cushing's syndrome?

    Cushing's syndrome is considered a rare disease, which means there is often not much information known about the disorder. This is usually the case because doctors and researchers do not see enough patients with Cushing's syndrome, which makes it hard to learn from them through observations or large studies.

    Consider participating in a clinical trial so clinicians and scientists can learn more about Cushing's syndrome and related disorders. Clinical research uses human volunteers to help researchers learn more about a disorder and perhaps find better ways to safely detect, treat, or prevent disease.

    All types of volunteers are needed—those who are healthy or may have an illness or disease—of all different ages, sexes, races, and ethnicities to ensure that study results apply to as many people as possible, and that treatments will be safe and effective for everyone who will use them.

    For information about participating in clinical research visit NIH Clinical Research Trials and You. Learn about clinical trials currently looking for people with Cushing's syndrome at

    Where can I find more information about Cushing's syndrome?

    The following organizations and resources help individuals, families, friends, and caregivers of people living with Cushing's syndrome:

    Cushing's Support & Research Foundation
    Phone: 617-723-3674

    National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
    Phone: 203-744-0100 or 800-999-6673; 844-259-7178 Spanish

    Pituitary Network Association
    Phone: 805-499-9973

    Content source: Accessed June 22, 2023.

    The information in this document is for general educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for personalized professional advice. Although the information was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, MedLink, its representatives, and the providers of the information do not guarantee its accuracy and disclaim responsibility for adverse consequences resulting from its use. For further information, consult a physician and the organization referred to herein.

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