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Cushing's Disease Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms

Although symptoms may vary, common symptoms of Cushing's syndrome are:

  • Weight gain of the upper body and trunk
  • Face shaped like a moon
  • Skin changes:
    • Darkening of the skin
    • Purple stretch marks
    • Easy bruising
  • Excess hair growth or acne in women
  • Menstrual disorders, especially infrequent or absent periods
  • Diminished fertility and libido
  • High blood pressure
  • Water retention or swelling
  • High blood sugar or diabetes
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Personality changes or mood swings
  • Muscle weakness
  • Osteoporosis or brittle bones
  • Skeletal growth retardation in children
  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Psychosis
  • Low back pain

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Tests for Cortisol Levels

  • 24-hour urinary free cortisol level—urine is collected for 24 hours and tested
  • Late-Evening cortisol saliva/blood level—saliva or blood is collected around 11pm and tested
  • Dexamethasone suppression test—a synthetic cortisl called dexamethasone is taken by mouth; blood and urine samples may be taken overnight or over several days

Tests to Determine Cause of Cushing's Syndrome

  • CRH stimulation test
  • ACTH level
  • High-dose dexamethasone suppression test

X-rays and Scans

These tests may show whether there is a tumor in the pituitary or adrenal glands or another area of the body. Common imaging tools include:

  • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the body
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body
  • Chest x-ray —which may detect tumors in the lungs

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2019 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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