Monday, May 23, 2011

Cushing's Awareness Day passes but disease lingers for reader

Dear Dr. Gott: Would you please mention that April 8 was Cushing's Awareness Day

I was a healthy woman until the age of 55. After more a year, I was diagnosed with Cushing's disease. I have had two brain surgeries, Graves' disease, recurring Cushing's and 25 radiation treatments to the pituitary. Eight years later, I still live with the effects of this monster. Thank you, Dr. Gott.

Dear Reader: Unfortunately, I was not able to print your letter on April 8, having only received it on April 6. It takes about three weeks before any letter appears in the newspaper.

Cushing's syndrome is a rare endocrine disorder. It occurs when the body produces or receives too much cortisol over an extended period of time.

Cortisol is a vital component in the body. It helps the body respond to stress, maintain blood pressure and cardiovascular function, regulates carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism, reduces the inflammatory response of the immune system, and balances the effects of insulin.

The most common symptoms include a rounded face and upper body (abdomen, upper back, neck and between the shoulders ("buffalo hump"), obesity and relatively slender arms and legs.

Other symptoms can include acne, slow-healing cuts, bites or infection, bone loss, muscle weakness, fatigue, cognitive difficulties, high blood pressure, high blood glucose levels, headaches, thin skin with easy bruising, purple/red stretch marks, depression and/or anxiety, abnormal menstruation and excess body and facial hair in women, and erectile dysfunction and a decrease in libido and fertility in men. Children typically present with obesity and slowed growth.

Write to Dr. Gott, c/o NEA-United Media, 200 Madison Ave., Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10016.