Cushing's Syndrome Treatment in Palm Harbor, FL
Understanding Cortisol: Your Body's Stress Hormone
Cortisol—best known as the body's primary stress hormone released in the 'fight or flight response'—helps your body respond to stress, regulates blood pressure and maintains normal functioning of your cardiovascular system. Cortisol also regulates the manner in which your body metabolizes food into useable energy.
When cortisol reaches high levels in your body, regulation gives way to dis-regulation, and Cushing's syndrome (hypercortisolism) can result. If left untreated, Cushing's syndrome can lead to frequent infections, osteoporosis, weight gain (especially in the abdomen), high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or loss of muscle mass and strength.
If you suffer from an excess of cortisol in your body, regardless of the cause, schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare practitioner in Palm Harbor who specializes in Cushing's syndrome treatment. Call (813) 536-3212 or contact Evolution online.
Cushing's Disease vs. Cushing's Syndrome
Cushing's syndrome is defined by the specific signs and symptoms associated with an overabundance of cortisol in your blood, regardless of what is causing the excess cortisol, and even if the cause is not known.
Cushing's disease, on the other hand, is a specific disease state with consistent etiology. In Cushing's disease, your pituitary gland secretes too much of the hormone ACTH which then overstimulates cortisol production by the adrenal glands. This disorder of the pituitary gland in Cushing's disease is caused by a tumor, normally a benign one, of the pituitary gland.
It's estimated that 10 to 15 million people suffer from an excess of cortisol. In 70 percent of those cases, the pituitary tumor typical to Cushing's disease is the culprit.
What Causes High Levels of Cortisol?
Unlike Cushing's disease, which is usually caused by a benign pituitary tumor, Cushing's syndrome can have a variety of causes, including exogenous causes (outside the body):
- Taking glucocorticoid medication like prednisone over time
- Repeated corticosteroid injections
Your body, however, can overproduce cortisol. Examples of endogenous (within the body) causes include:
- Pituitary gland tumors as in Cushing's disease
- An ectopic ACTH-secreting tumor in the thyroid or thymus glands, lungs or pancreas
- Adrenal gland disease, including either cancerous or non-cancerous tumors of the adrenal cortex or benign nodular enlargement of the adrenal glands
- Familial Cushing's syndrome, an inherited tendency to develop tumors on one or more of the endocrine glands
Cushing's Syndrome Symptoms and Diagnosis
Cushing's syndrome symptoms, which manifest due to excess cortisol production, can include:
- Rounding of your face
- Weight gain
- Accumulation of fat between shoulders and neck (also called a buffalo hump)
- Poor memory
- Thinning skin
- Bruising easily
- Presence of stretch marks (excess cortisol in the body makes stretch marks more likely)
Saliva, urine and blood tests may be used to determine whether your body is producing excess cortisol. Imaging tests like MRIs may be used to diagnose possible tumors in your pituitary or adrenal glands. Petrosal sinus sampling is another test that may be recommended—not only to diagnose excess cortisol and its cause but to rule out other diseases or conditions that mimic the symptoms of Cushing's syndrome.
Treatment for Cushing's Syndrome
Determining the root cause of your Cushing's syndrome will determine the best course of treatment. If long-term use of corticosteroids pills or injections is the problem, their usage will be reduced or discontinued, if possible. Non-corticosteroid medication may be recommended in their place. You should only discontinue the use of a prescription medication under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Additional treatment for Cushing's syndrome may include:
- Surgery or radiation, if a tumor is found. Cortisol replacement therapy may be required after surgery to maintain adequate levels of cortisol in the body.
- Medications to decrease cortisol production, or to block the effects of cortisol in the body.
- Pasireotide injections to decrease ACTH production when surgery or radiation are not viable treatment options or prove unsuccessful.
Your healthcare provider will discuss these options with you, as well as their side effects and potential complications at the time of your office visit. He or she may recommend lifestyle modifications to your diet and activity levels, as well as breaking bad habits such as smoking and alcohol use, to supplement your treatment program.
Early diagnosing and medical intervention can prevent serious ramifications of excess cortisol before they occur. Request more information about excess cortisol and Cushing's syndrome treatment today. Call (813) 536-3212 or contact Evolution online.
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