Cushing's syndrome develops when the body produces excess cortisol, a stress hormone, for a prolonged period. Long-term use of corticosteroids or an adrenal gland tumor are the most common causes. Cushing's syndrome caused by medication can be cured with a gradual reduction of the problematic prescription if it is caught early. In general, the stage at which the disorder is diagnosed plays a significant role in prognosis. Promptly bringing the symptoms to a doctor's attention can improve recovery.
The most telling sign of Cushing's syndrome is abnormal weight gain most noticeable in the face, chest, and stomach; cortisol causes the redistribution of fat to these areas. Individuals with Cushing's syndrome develop central obesity, with thin limbs and a large belly, a moon face, and a lumpy fat deposit between the shoulder blades called a buffalo hump. Children with the condition become obese without consuming excessive food, and they grow more slowly than healthy kids consuming the same diet.
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