Cushing’s syndrome is a condition that occurs when the body’s tissues are constantly exposed to too much of the hormone cortisol.1 The syndrome is named after a brain surgeon, Harvey Cushing, who identified the condition in 1932.2 Cortisol is produced by the body’s two adrenal (pronounced uh-DREEN-l) glands either in response to stress or when the cortisol levels in the blood are lower than they should be. Cortisol is a type of glucocorticoid (pronounced GLOO-koh-KAWR-tuh-koid) or steroid (pronounced STEER-oid or STER-oid) hormone.
In the right amount, cortisol helps the body with several vital tasks:
When the body continually receives or produces too much cortisol, either from medication or as a result of a tumor, Cushing’s syndrome can develop. Many factors influence whether this happens, such as the medication dosage and how long it is taken. Or, in the case of a tumor, how large it grows before it is detected and treated.
What causes it? »
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