Some of the above symptoms are non-specific and can occur as a result of other conditions, such as obesity or the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Overall, Cushing's syndrome is a very rare cause of weight gain. In other words, most weight gain that occurs in the United States is a result of diet and exercise behaviors, and not Cushing's syndrome. Of the above signs and symptoms, the ones that are most specific to (indicative of) Cushing's syndrome are easy bruising, muscle weakness, and ruddy complexion. Patients who have too much cortisol but do not have any clear signs or symptoms of hypercortisolism are said to have "subclinical Cushing’s."
If you have Cushing’s syndrome, you may experience any of the following physical symptoms:
- Thinning and weakness of the muscles of the upper arms
- Weight gain, especially on the face, abdomen, neck, and upper back
- Thinning of the skin
- Easy bruising
- Pink and purple stretch marks
- Increased acne
- Facial hair growth and scalp hair loss in women
- Ruddy complexion
- Darkening skin on the neck
- Obesity and poor growth in height in children
Other symptoms may include:
- High blood pressure
- Mood swings
- Increased thirst and urination
- Ceased menstrual periods
Having one or more of the above symptoms does not mean that you have Cushing’s syndrome. This list should be used as a guideline only.
Many people who have classic symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome may actually have another condition, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, ovarian tumors, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or obesity.
If you think you have Cushing’s syndrome, please contact your doctor. If left untreated, Cushing's syndrome will cause continued weakening of the muscles, fatigue, poor skin healing, weakening of the bones and spine, and a suppressed immune system.