Cortisol is an essential steroid hormone made by the adrenal glands that aids in suppressing inflammation, regulating blood sugar levels, controlling salt and water balance, and even helping the memory process. It is sometimes called the stress hormone. If the levels of cortisol are chronically elevated beyond the normal range, several symptoms develop. Many issues can cause a rise in cortisol levels. Cushing's disease is specifically the result of a tumor of the pituitary gland.
If a tumor forms on the pituitary gland in the brain, it can excrete its own hormone, adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), that acts on the adrenal glands, stimulating them to produce excess cortisol. The result is Cushings disease. Tumors of the pituitary gland are surprisingly common and are usually benign growths called adenomas. Some pituitary tumors cause no symptoms and go undetected. Others impact hormone production, having severe implications that need medical attention and treatment.
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