Cushing’s syndrome describes the signs and symptoms associated with prolonged exposure to inappropriately high levels of the hormone cortisol. This can be caused by taking glucocorticoid drugs, or diseases that result in excess cortisol, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), or CRH levels.
Cushing’s disease refers to a pituitary-dependent cause of Cushing’s syndrome: a tumor (adenoma) in the pituitary gland produces large amounts of ACTH, causing the adrenal glands to produce elevated levels of cortisol. It is the most common non-iatrogenic cause of Cushing’s syndrome, responsible for 70% of cases excluding glucocorticoid related cases.
It should not be confused with Cushing’s triad, a disease state resulting from increased intracranial pressure.
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