What is Cushing’s syndrome?

Cushing’s syndrome results when the body is exposed to a hormone called cortisol for a long period of time. It can occur if the body makes too much cortisol or from oral corticosteroid medications. Cushing’s syndrome can cause other problems in the body like high blood pressure, bone loss and diabetes.

What are the causes?

  • Overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal glands
  • Pituitary gland tumor produces ACTH which causes adrenal glands to produce more cortisol
  • Tumor in an organ that does not normally produce ACTH also causes adrenal glands to produce more cortisol
  • Adrenal gland disease – tumors in the adrenal cortex can also cause increased secretion of cortisol
  • High doses and prolonged use of oral corticosteroid medications – given to treat inflammatory diseases or to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ

Treatments for Cushing’s syndrome:

  • Reduce corticosteroid use – DO NOT do this without speaking to your child’s doctor first
  • Surgery – if the cause of Cushing’s is due to a tumor, removal can alleviate symptoms
  • Radiation therapy – only if the surgery does not remove the entire tumor
  • Medications to control the levels of cortisol in the body
  • Removal of the adrenal glands – only if no other treatments work

What can I do?

  • Make sure you follow up with your child’s doctor. If left untreated, this disease can cause serious health problems for your child.


It is important to remember the health information found on this Web site is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your health care provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a true medical emergency, call 911 immediately.


  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Moon face – rounding of the face
  • Facial flushing
  • Buffalo hump – fat pad or hump between the shoulders
  • Thin, fragile skin that bruises easily
  • Slow healing of cuts, insect bites and infections
  • Acne
  • High blood pressure
  • Glucose (sugar) intolerance which may lead to diabetes
  • Headaches
  • Bone loss – can lead to fractures over time