How Cushing's Syndrome Can Cause Diabetes

Other than lifestyle and environmental factors, type 2 diabetes can also be caused by Cushing's syndrome.

Usually, it happens more in adults than any other age groups. What happens is the cortisol hormone is produced excessively from the adrenal glands. Adrenal glands are located at the kidneys.

Cortisol hormone

It is a hormone which serves to increase blood glucose whenever it is low. However, too much of cortisol can cause diabetes.

Why cortisol is being produced excessively?

The number one reason is tumor. This tumor affects the pituitary gland in which it makes the gland produce too much adrenocortical stimulating hormone or 'ACTH'. Consequently, the 'ACTH' makes more cortisol to be produced.

The secondary reason is the benign tumor stimulis cortisol overproduction in one of the adrenals.

The tumors discussed in the 2 reasons are the benign type. Benign means harmless and would not cause death.

Symptoms of the Cushing's syndrome

The most prevalent symptom is a round face with trunk obesity. However, these symptoms are only seen in later stages.

In today's modern world, people are getting diagnosed earlier and therefore the symptoms are different.

  • Acne
  • Skin gets bruised easily
  • Irregularity of menstruation
  • Depression
  • Sexual interest loss
  • Tiredness and weakness

Diagnosing Cushing's syndrome

Doctors will observe the cortisol level in the blood in the morning and night. A person with Cushing's syndrome will have his or her blood contained less cortisol in the evening.

High 'ACTH'

Doctors will take an X-ray of the pituitary gland. If there is a tumor, then it needs to be removed by surgery or radiation therapy.

Low 'ACTH'

The tumor can be safely removed through surgery.

X-rays of chest and abdomens

The results will show the source of ectopic production of 'ACTH'. Usually, a small cell carcinoma in the lungs would be found. This carcinoma may or may not be operable.

Diabetes resulting from the syndrome

Usually, the diabetes is mild and not serious. Diagnosing early also proves to be very important to treating diabetes.


Therefore, people must be careful when taking prescriptions with cortisol in them. This is most common when people are taking cortisol for anti-inflammatory action.