A closer look at Cushing's disease and hypercortisolism
Cushing's disease is a rare hormone disorder
Cushing's disease is a specific form of Cushing's syndrome. It occurs when a benign (noncancerous) tumor on the pituitary gland, just below the brain, produces excessive amounts of a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH travels through your blood to your adrenal glands (located on your kidneys) and signals them to produce an excessive amount of an important steroid hormone called cortisol.
When a person's level of cortisol is too high (called hypercortisolism) for too long, it can lead to many different symptoms. At a normal level, cortisol supports many bodily processes, such as metabolism and your ability to fight infection. For people with Cushing's disease, hypercortisolism can lead to many different health problems that are described in the section of www.CushingsDisease.com called Understanding the long-term effects of Cushing's disease.
How a pituitary tumor causes Cushing's disease
Tumor grows on the pituitary gland and produces excessive amounts of ACTH
ACTH travels through the blood to the adrenal glands, above the kidneys
Adrenal glands release excessive amounts of cortisol, which travels throughout the body
The level of cortisol builds up over time to cause the signs and symptoms of Cushing's disease (physical, emotional, cognitive)