Cushing's Syndrome (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Exams and Tests
Cushing's syndrome can be difficult to diagnose because a variety of factors—from the time of day to a temporary illness—can lead to a higher-than-average cortisol level in people who do not have Cushing's syndrome. It also can be hard to pinpoint the cause. This is important, because treatment depends on the cause. You may need to see an endocrinologist (a doctor who specializes in hormone disorders) to diagnose or treat Cushing's syndrome.
To diagnose Cushing's syndrome, your doctor will ask about your medicines, symptoms, history of cancer or smoking, and any changes to your menstrual periods (if you are a woman). Your doctor will also do a physical exam. He or she will check for high blood pressure and look at your skin for color changes, bruising, stretch marks, and changes in thickness. Your doctor will also check for changes in your weight and for any signs of cancer. Your doctor can usually find out from these exams whether corticosteroid medicine is causing the condition. If it is, other tests usually are not done and your doctor will consider changing your medicine.
If you are not taking steroid medicine or your doctor believes something other than steroid medicine is causing Cushing's syndrome, you will have laboratory tests to check your level of cortisol. These tests include:
If the above tests show you have Cushing's syndrome, the following blood tests can help your doctor find out the amount of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in your body and whether you have a tumor on the adrenal glands, the pituitary gland, or an organ:
If the first tests show that too much ACTH is causing Cushing's syndrome, other tests may be needed to find out its source. These include:
Blood test results showing changes in body chemistry also may point to Cushing's syndrome. These include:
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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