Named after Dr. Harvey Cushing, this describes any condition that results in an excess of cortisol in the body. There are numerous causes of the disease (the most common being the long term use of steroids or a tumour in the pituitary gland), but the symptoms remain the same. The disease affects approximately two in every ten thousand people.
Symptoms may include the following: Thirst and increase in urination; Spots on the face, chest and shoulders which may be inflamed or infected; Amenorrhoea in women; Impotence in men; Osteoporosis; Hypertension; Central obesity with thin limbs; Purple stretch marks across the stomach, skin and breasts; A layer of fat between the shoulders.
Treatment depends on the specific reason for cortisol excess and may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or the use of cortisol-inhibiting drugs. If the cause is long-term use of glucocorticoid hormones to treat another disorder, the doctor will gradually reduce the dosage to the lowest dose adequate for control of that disorder. Once control is established, the daily dose of glucocorticoid hormones may be doubled and given on alternate days to lessen side effects.
Any treatment must not be undertaken until a complete physical examination has been undertaken by a qualified and competent health practitioner.
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