The hormone cortisol is commonly associated with stress. By now we know stress, over a period of time, can be detrimental to our health. But there is another condition associated with excessive cortisol. It’s called Cushing’s syndrome.
Causes of Cushing’s syndrome
The cause of Cushing’s syndrome is a result of too much cortisol produced in the body. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands may produce too much cortisol due to a tumor.
Another cause of Cushing’s syndrome is taking high doses of certain medications such as corticosteroid medications. These types of medications are prescribed to treat inflammation or to prevent the body from rejecting an organ, which has been transplanted.
Symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome
Common symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome include:
- Changes to weight and skin – weight gain typically around the face, between the shoulders and around the midsection; striae (pink and purple stretch marks); thinning, fragile skin that bruises easily; slow healing of cuts, infections and bug bites; acne.
- Women specific symptoms: Thicker more visible body hair; irregular or absent menstrual cycles.
- Male specific symptoms: Decreased libido and fertility; erectile dysfunction.
- Muscle weakness
- Depression and anxiety
- Loss of emotional control
- Cognitive difficulties
- New or worsened blood pressure
- Glucose intolerance
- Bone loss.
Prevention tips for Cushing’s syndrome
If you are currently taking corticosteroid medications it’s important to recognize the signs of Cushing’s syndrome in order to prevent it. Speak to your doctor the moment you begin to notice any symptoms associated with Cushing’s syndrome.
Getting regular check-ups is also a good way to prevent Cushing’s syndrome as your doctor will be able to detect and changes to your health, especially any tumors. Early detection is the best defense against Cushing’s syndrome.
Eating a balanced diet can also help maintain muscle strength as well as bone strength. Eating a variety of health foods can improve your bones, which is important as Cushing’s syndrome can make bones brittle and prone to fracture.
Monitor your mental health: Depression can be a side effect of Cushing’s syndrome, but it can also develop after treatment begins.
Soothe aches and pains: Hot baths, massages and low-impact exercises, such as water aerobics can help alleviate some of the muscle and joint pain that accompanies Cushing’s syndrome recovery.
Exercise your brain: Mental exercises, such as math problems and crossword puzzles, can help cognitive recovery.
Cortisol is the stress hormone released by the adrenal glands. Although linked to stress, cortisol is important for human function. Cortisol plays a role in the release of insulin, immune function, inflammatory response, regulation of blood pressure, and the metabolism of glucose. Continue reading…
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