Endocrine System

Adrenal Glands

What two disorders are associated with abnormal glucocorticoid production?

Addison’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome are both disorders caused by abnormal glucocorticoid production. Addison’s disease occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough of the hormone cortisol and, in some cases, the hormone aldosterone. Common symptoms of Addison’s disease are chronic, worsening fatigue, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Treatment of Addison’s disease involves replacing, or substituting, the hormones that the adrenal glands are not making.

Cushing’s syndrome is caused by prolonged exposure of the body’s tissues to high levels of the hormone cortisol. The symptoms vary, but most people have upper body obesity, a characteristic rounded “moon” face, increased fat around the neck, and thinning arms and legs. The skin, which becomes fragile and thin, bruises easily and heals poorly. The symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome may appear with prolonged use of prescribed glucocorticoid hormones, including prednisone.


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