(Cushing Disease; Hypercortisolism)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Cushing syndrome is too much of a hormone called cortisol in the blood. In normal doses, this hormone helps the body manage stress and infection. High levels over a long period of time can cause health problems.
High levels of this hormone may be caused by:
This problem is more common in people who use corticosteroids to treat problems, such as:
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests, urine tests, and saliva tests to check a person's levels of cortisol.
Images may be taken to look at the pituitary and adrenal glands and at other internal structures. This may be done with:
Treatment of Cushing syndrome depends on the cause. Options are:
The risk of this problem may be lowered by limiting long-term corticosteroid use.
Cushing's Support and Research Foundation
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Cushing disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cushing-disease. Accessed October 22, 2020.
Cushing's syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders website. Available at:
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Accessed October 22, 2020.
Nieman LK, Biller BM, et al. Treatment of Cushing's Syndrome: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Aug;100(8):2807-2831.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 10/22/2020