The endocrine system is composed of glands which secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream. These hormones play a key role in regulating cellular growth and development and organ function. Hormones also play an instrumental role in regulating mood, appetite and metabolism, sexual and reproductive function and tissue function.
Cushing's Syndrome is one example of endocrine disease. Cushing's is caused by an excess of glucocorticoids. Excess secretions of mineralocorticoids and androgens may cause Cushing's.
The adrenal cortex is affected and typically shows up on CAT scan as enlarged. The cortex is the layer of tissue that surrounds the adrenal glands which sit atop the kidneys and is responsible for secreting the mineralocorticoids and androgens.
The signs and symptoms of Cushing's spread throughout the body. The tell tale signs of Cushing's are increased fat layer of the face, neck and trunk and a purple striae on the skin. Also, feeling of fatigue, muscle weakness, water retention, decreased libido, irritability, thinning hair, acne, thin extremities, high blood pressure and delayed wound healing.
Treatment plans include radiation, drug therapy, or removal of the adrenal glands. In which case, steroids must be taken lifelong. People who have Cushing's must wear a medical identification bracelet and carry a list of prescribed medication.
Always discuss any health issues you may be experiencing with your doctor at your annual physical examination.
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN