In many situations, stress or cortisol in the body allows the host to go into a “fight or flight” response that works together with the sympathetic nervous system. In its acute form, stress enables the individual to experience various symptoms quickly and doesn’t last very long. However, when there is residual stress still in the body over an extended period can cause havoc to the body and affect a person’s well-being is known as chronic stress. To that point, when the body is dealing with chronic stress, over time can become at risk of developing chronic disorders associated with chronic issues affecting the endocrine system. One of the endocrine disorders that correlate with chronic stress is Cushing syndrome. Today’s article examines Cushing syndrome, its symptoms, and ways to manage Cushing syndrome in the body. We refer patients to certified providers specializing in endocrinology treatments to aid individuals suffering from Cushing syndrome. We also guide our patients by referring them to our associated medical providers based on their examination when it’s appropriate. We find that education is the solution to asking our providers insightful questions. Dr. Alex Jimenez DC provides this information as an educational service only. Disclaimer
What Is Cushing Syndrome?
Have you been experiencing abnormal weight gain around your midsection? What about feeling tired throughout the entire day? Or has your mood been changing all day? Many of these symptoms that you are experiencing could potentially make you at risk of developing Cushing syndrome. Cushing syndrome is an endocrine disorder that causes the brain’s anterior pituitary to produce excessive ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), leading to excess cortisol release from the adrenal glands. In the endocrine system, cortisol is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands above the kidneys. These hormones help the body by:
- Maintaining blood pressure
- Regulates glucose levels
- Reduces inflammation in the body
- Converts food into energy
- Manages respiration
When the adrenal glands overproduce cortisol, it causes the body to be on high alert and can become a risk of developing chronic symptoms associated with Cushing syndrome. Studies reveal that Cushing’s disease (a condition where the pituitary glands overproduce ACTH and turn into cortisol) becomes associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders that overlaps chronic symptoms, thus affecting the body.
When the body is dealing with Cushing syndrome, studies reveal that chronic exposure to excess cortisol could potentially be involved with its associated comorbidities that contribute to decreasing a person’s quality of life. When a person has the signs of Cushing syndrome, the symptoms are unmistakable as the symptoms vary in different people. One of the prominent symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome is rapid weight gain along the face, abdomen, back of the neck, and chest. Some other symptoms associated with Cushing’s syndrome include:
- High blood pressure
- Purple/red stretch marks along the abdomen
- Weak, thin muscles along the arms and legs
- Excessive hair growth in some regions of the body
- Cognitive difficulties
An Overview Of Cushing Syndrome-Video
Have you been experiencing rapid weight gain along your face, neck, and abdomen? What about feeling stressed constantly? Or have you noticed that your memory is declining? Many of these symptoms are associated with an endocrine disorder called Cushing syndrome. The video above explains what Cushing’s syndrome is, its causes and symptoms, and how to treat Cushing’s syndrome. Cushing syndrome is developed when the adrenal glands produce an excessive amount of cortisol in the body. When the body is suffering from too much cortisol caused by Cushing syndrome, one of the symptoms is bone fractures associated with Cushing syndrome. Studies reveal that the skeletal system is one of the common targets that cause glucocorticoids to attach themselves to the skeletal joints. To that point, Cushing syndrome causes structural and functional impairment to the skeletal system associated with morbidity and disability to many individuals. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage Cushing syndrome and lower cortisol levels in the body.
How To Manage Cushing Syndrome
Since stress/cortisol is beneficial and harmful to the body, it has a causal relationship with the organs and tissues in the body. The body needs cortisol to regulate the metabolism and functionality of the endocrine organs. Too much cortisol causes the development of Cushing syndrome, and fortunately, there are ways many individuals can manage this endocrine disorder while keeping an eye on their cortisol levels. Many individuals suffering from weight gain from Cushing syndrome should try to find an exercise regime that their primary physician recommends to lose weight and improve their muscle strength little by a little. Other ways that individuals can manage Cushing syndrome are by:
- Eating nutritious foods that are anti-inflammatory and taking supplements that have calcium and vitamin D.
- Meditation or yoga can help calm the mind, and taking deep breaths can help relax the body while lowering cortisol levels.
- Incorporating massages and chiropractic care to alleviate muscle and joint pain caused by Cushing syndrome. Chiropractic care and massages can help loosen stiff muscles and support the joints to regain their range of motion in the body.
Slowly incorporating these lifestyle changes can lower cortisol levels and help prevent Cushing’s syndrome from progressing further in the body while helping the individual get back on their health journey.
The body needs cortisol or stress to get through stressful situations that a person is going through. Cortisol is a hormone formed from the adrenal glands that help regulate the body’s metabolism and provide the functionality to the organs and tissues. In its acute and chronic form, cortisol can range from mild to severe depending on the body’s situation. The body risks developing Cushing’s syndrome when the adrenal glands overproduce cortisol. Cushing syndrome is an endocrine disorder that causes an increased risk of metabolic disorders associated with chronic symptoms like weight gain around the face, neck, and abdomen. Luckily, there are ways to manage Cushing’s syndrome and lower cortisol levels by incorporating an exercise regime, eating anti-inflammatory foods filled with calcium and vitamin D, meditation to calm the mind, and incorporating deep breaths to lower cortisol levels. Utilizing these small changes can significantly impact the body while helping the individual better manage their cortisol levels.
Buliman, A, et al. “Cushing’s Disease: A Multidisciplinary Overview of the Clinical Features, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” Journal of Medicine and Life, Carol Davila University Press, 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5152600/.
Faggiano, A, et al. “Spine Abnormalities and Damage in Patients Cured from Cushing’s Disease.” Pituitary, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2001, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12138988/.
Kairys, Norah, and Ari Schwell. “Cushing Disease.” In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL), StatPearls Publishing, 2 Feb. 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448184/.
Nieman, Lynnette K. “Cushing’s Syndrome: Update on Signs, Symptoms and Biochemical Screening.” European Journal of Endocrinology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553096/.
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The information herein on "How Cushing Syndrome Affects The Body" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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