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Understanding how Cushing's syndrome is different from Cushing's disease

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Apr 15, 2016
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)
Quick Bites

  • People consider Cushing's syndrome and Cushing's disease to be one condition
  • Both are associated with access of cortisol
  • Cushing’s syndrome leads to cushing disease.
  • Pituitary gland contols secretion of cortisol.

More

As you may already know that hormone cortisol is directly associated with stress response. In a healthy person, ACTH is produced within pituitary gland that helps stimulate the production and release of cortisol. Under stressful situations, our body tends to produce additional cortisol. Sometimes the body fails to regulate its production properly, which results in overproduction of this hormone. Cushing's syndrome and Cushing's disease are conditions that occur when the body produces too much cortisol.

 

cushings disease

 

Cushing's syndrome and Cushing's disease

People often get confused about cushing's disease and cushing's syndrome thinking both are same. Actually cushing’s disease is a menifestation of cushing’s syndrome.In extreme stresful conditions pituitary gland start producing excess cortisol hormone on regular basis leading to the disease condition.


As mentioned above Cushing's syndrome occurs when the body produces too much cortisol. There are number of reasons that could lead to this condition, but it is most commonly reported in patients who use corticosteroid medication.


So, now you may be wondering what cushing's disease is, then? Well, Cushing’s disease is a medical cause of Cushing's syndrome. Excessive growth of the pituitary gland known as hyperplasia, may also lead to Cushing’s disease. However, both Cushing's syndrome and Cushing's disease cause the same symptoms, including red lines on the abdomen, abdominal weight gain and roundness to the face, upper body obesity, thin arms and legs, acne or skin infections and weak muscles.

 

Understanding Cushing's disease

Cushing’s disease is a rare condition and is more common in people between the ages of 20 and 50.  One of the most common causes of Cushing’s disease is adenoma, a pituitary tumour that is hard to diagnose in the initial stage due to its small size.

 

Treatment for Cushing’s disease

Treatment of Cushing’s disease involves removal of pituitary tumour, if possible. After surgery, the pituitary gland begins to work normal again. However, you may require cortisol replacement during the recovery process for better results.


You may also be given radiation treatment of the pituitary gland if the pituitary gland is not completely removed.


In case the tumour does not respond to surgery or radiation, you will be given medicines to stop production of cortisol.


If these treatments are not successful, doctors will eventually remove adrenal glands to stop the high levels of cortisol from being produced.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)


Cushing disease can prove to be fatal that may even cause death. Removal of the tumour may lead to full recovery, but the tumour can grow back.

 

Image Source: Getty

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