Cushing’s syndrome is patients with Cushing’s syndrome have too much cortisol. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and helps the body respond to stress. Cushing’s syndrome can be exogenous or endogenous. Accurate management of the condition depends on first identifying the underlying cause of the disorder.
Exogenous Cushing’s syndrome affects people who take glucocorticoids (steroids). Those at most risk are patients with chronic health conditions, requiring long-term treatment; for example, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Endogenous Cushing’s syndrome is caused by the body producing too much cortisol.
Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-dependent Cushing’s syndrome comprises 80-85% of endogenous cases, with the majority of these attributable to tumors of the pituitary gland. ACTH tells the adrenal glands, located next to the kidneys, to produce cortisol. Too much ACTH results in too much cortisol. This form of ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome is more accurately known as Cushing’s disease.