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Cushing's Syndrome: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Cushing's syndrome is a rare hormonal problem. It happens when there is too much of the hormone cortisol in your body. It may be caused by using steroid medicine for a long time. Having tumours on the pituitary gland or adrenal glands can also cause it.

The symptoms of Cushing's syndrome often appear slowly over time. They may include weight gain, skin changes (such as bruising, acne, or stretch marks), and muscle and bone weakness. The syndrome can also cause sex hormone changes. This can cause irregular periods and facial hair growth in women and erection problems in men.

Treatment depends on the cause of the syndrome. If it's caused by steroid medicine, your doctor may change the amount of medicine you take. If it's caused by tumours on the pituitary or adrenal glands, your doctor may treat it with surgery, medicine, or radiation.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Eat a healthy diet that is high in protein and calcium. This can help prevent muscle and bone loss caused by the high cortisol levels in your body. Talk to your doctor about whether you should take a calcium and vitamin D supplement for bone health.
  • Limit salt (sodium) in your diet. This is very important if you have high blood pressure because of Cushing's syndrome.
  • Get exercise. Walking is a good choice to start with. Talk with your doctor about how much exercise is safe for you.
  • Get regular eye exams to check for glaucoma and cataracts.
  • See your doctor regularly to help diagnose and treat diabetes, high blood pressure, and other possible complications.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.
  • Your symptoms, such as weight gain or hair growth, are getting worse.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.