Skip to content

    Cushing's Syndrome

    Font Size

    Topic Overview


    How is Cushing's syndrome diagnosed?

    Cushing's syndrome can be hard to diagnose because many things can make your cortisol level higher than normal. You may need to see a doctor who specializes in hormone disorders (endocrinologist) to diagnose or treat Cushing's syndrome.

    To find out if you have Cushing's syndrome, a doctor will:

    • Ask questions about the medicines you take, your symptoms, and, if you are a woman, your periods.
    • Take your blood pressure, look for skin changes, and check for changes in your weight and for any signs of cancer.

    A doctor can usually find out from these exams if corticosteroid medicine is causing the problem.

    If you don't take corticosteroid medicine or your doctor thinks something other than medicine is causing your symptoms, you may have tests, such as:

    • Tests to check the level of cortisol and other hormones in your blood and urine.
    • A test to measure cortisol in your saliva in the late evening, when the level normally drops.
    • A CT scan or MRI to look for a tumor on your adrenal glands, pituitary gland, or another organ.

    How is it treated?

    Cushing's syndrome can lead to serious health problems, so it's important to start treatment right away. Treatment can often cure Cushing's syndrome.

    If long-term use of corticosteroid medicine is the cause:

    • Your doctor will help you lower your dose or gradually stop taking it. It may take a while for the symptoms to go away.
    • Do not stop taking steroid medicine on your own. That can be very dangerous. Your doctor will help you change your medicine or lower the dose slowly.

    If a pituitary tumor is the cause:

    • Surgery to remove the tumor offers the best chance for recovery. This surgery requires great skill and should be done at a major medical center where doctors specialize in pituitary surgery.
    • Medicine may be tried if surgery isn't possible or hasn't worked.
    • Surgery to remove the adrenal glands may be done if medicine doesn't work.

    If an adrenal tumor is the cause:

    • Surgery to remove the tumor is usually done if the tumor is not cancer (benign). If the tumor is cancer, the whole gland is removed.
    • Medicine may be tried if surgery isn't an option.

    If a tumor of the lungs or another organ is the cause, the tumor will be removed or treated with radiation or medicines.

    1 | 2 | 3

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Hot Topics

    WebMD Video: Now Playing

    Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

    Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

    disciplining a boy
    Types, symptoms, causes.
    fruit drinks
    Eat these to think better.
    embarrassed woman
    Do you feel guilty after eating?
    diabetes supply kit
    Pack and prepare.
    handful of vegetables and vitamins
    Diet tips and mistakes.
    birth control pills
    Which kind is right for you?
    Remember your finger
    Are you getting more forgetful?
    sticky notes on face
    10 tips to clear your brain fog.
    Close up of eye
    12 reasons you're distracted.
    Trainer demonstrating exercise for RA
    Exercises for your joints.
    apple slices with peanut butter
    What goes best with workouts?
    woman having a good day
    Revitalize your life.

    Women's Health Newsletter

    Find out what women really need.