Cushing's Disease Symptoms

Cushing's Disease Symptoms

Because the symptoms of Cushing's disease are the primary reason a doctor will order testing, patients need to be aware of the common signs that point to this condition. Unfortunately, they are sometimes hard to notice because of the nature of the symptoms. Cushing's disease symptoms often come on slowly and can be attributed to lifestyle changes or even the aging process, and this can make diagnosis difficult. However, if you notice a combination of these Cushing's symptoms and do not feel that changes in your lifestyle are the cause, talk to your doctor about getting tested for Cushing's disease.

Changes to the Body

Some of the most common symptoms people notice when they have Cushing's disease are physical changes to the body. Weight gain is one of these, but the fat accumulation is specific to the abdominal area and the back of the neck. Patients with Cushing's disease may develop a fatty lump on the back of the neck sometimes called a buffalo hump. Patients may also become very round in the abdomen, while retaining thin arms and legs.

As the patient's weight increases, the face gains fullness and a distinctive round look. This may be accompanied by redness to the cheeks, known as plethora.

Changes to the skin may also occur. Patients with Cushing's disease symptoms may find that they bruise more easily and their wounds do not heal quickly. Purple stretch marks, called abdominal striae, on the abdomen, chest and arms are another common body change.

Changes to Vision

Vision changes are also sometimes associated with Cushing's disease. These Cushing's symptoms occur because the tumors in the pituitary gland grow to the point that they place pressure on the optic chiasm. This can cause loss of overall vision, loss of peripheral vision, blurred vision and inability to see colors brightly.

Other Changes to the Patient's Health

Changes to the body are the first signs many people notice, but patients may experience other health changes, including:

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Loss of menstrual periods
  • Infertility in women
  • High blood pressure that is not easily treated
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Behavior disorders
  • Wasting of muscles in the legs
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Elevated prolactin levels in the blood
  • Increased hair on the body and face

These symptoms do not always mean that a patient has Cushing's disease, but when combined, they are a strong indicator of the condition. If you are noticing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. Finding the cause is the first step toward feeling better.