Cushing syndrome, otherwise known as hypercortisolism, is a general description given to a group of disorders related to elevated amounts of cortisol in the blood. The symptoms can come about due to certain hormone treatments for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and other ailments. People who are overweight, or suffering from hypertension and / or diabetes, may also experience some symptoms related to Cushing syndrome so it is important to get tested and receive a proper diagnosis.
When a tumor on the pituitary or adrenal glands is the cause of this elevated cortisol level it is referred to as Cushing disease instead. It is a relatively rare disease, and it affects women more than men.
This disorder can be life-threatening if left untreated, but there are surgical procedures available which are usually successful in curing it. There is also a drug that can be taken in some cases, which will be discussed in more detail below.
1. Is Cushing Syndrome the Same as Cushing Disease?
The short answer to this is no. Cushing disease is not the same as Cushing syndrome – these two terms refer to different things and are not synonymous. The syndrome itself is much more prevalent in the general population when compared to the disease.
The difference between the disease and the syndrome come down to one main point. While they both refer to the blood containing excess amounts of cortisol, a steroid hormone, in the case of the disease it is due to a pituitary tumor. This tumor gives off ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) which is also made by the pituitary gland.
In the case of Cushing syndrome, it is a much more general diagnosis which still refers to high amounts of cortisol but does not pinpoint the reason as being from a pituitary tumor. This increased amount of cortisol could be caused by other issues such as cancer in other parts of the body, or a tumor located at the adrenal glands, among other rarer causes.