Skip to main content

Cushing Syndrome


Cushing syndrome is a condition where you have increased levels of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is a hormone made in the adrenal glands, which are just above your kidneys. Cortisol helps your body deal with stress and helps keep blood sugar and blood pressure levels normal.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


  • Blood pressure medicine helps keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.
  • Adrenal-acting inhibitors block the adrenal glands from making cortisol and change how your body uses cortisol.
  • Glucocorticoid antagonists decrease the amount of cortisol made by your adrenal glands.
  • Hypoglycemic medicine is used to decrease blood sugar levels. It also helps your body move sugar to your cells, where it is needed for energy.
  • Pain medicine will decrease or take away your pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a healthcare provider when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.


  • Blood and urine tests measure the amount of cortisol in your body. For a urine test, you may need to save your urine for 24 hours and send the sample to a lab. This measures the amount of cortisol in your urine over 24 hours.
  • A saliva test is done at 11 PM on 2 separate nights to measure the amount of cortisol in your saliva.
  • A CT scan , or CAT scan, is a type of x-ray that is taken of your head, chest, abdomen, or pelvic area. The pictures may show the cause of your symptoms. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
  • An MRI takes pictures of your body to look for lung cancer or an adrenal or pituitary tumor. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.


  • Surgery is used to remove a tumor causing increased cortisol levels.
  • Medicines may help decrease cortisol and block the adrenal glands from making cortisol. You may also need medicine to kill tumor or cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to shrink a tumor or kill cancer cells.


After surgery, you may get an infection or bleed too much. Even with treatment, Cushing syndrome may return. If Cushing syndrome is not treated, you may continue to gain weight or have high cholesterol and triglycerides levels. You may also have an increased risk for diabetes or hypertension. Cushing syndrome may also affect your daily activities and quality of life.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Cushing Syndrome (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.