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Thyroid Diseases

Is This Cushing's Syndrome?

10/02/2006

Question:

My mother has swelling that is soft to the touch at the base of her neck, around her shoulders, and her face. She sweats excessively on the back of her neck, without feeling hot. She is also experiencing weight gain in her abdomen, and extreme fatigue.

I was thinking Cushing`s until it occurred to me she is only sweating around her neck. Any ideas what may be contributing to this swelling or collection of fluid? Her echocardiogram is normal, as are blood tests for thyroid function. Thank you.

Answer:

The only symptom you mention that sounds like Cushing's syndrome is the abdominal weight gain. The swelling that Cushing's syndrome patients get in the face and neck is actually fat, and would not indent when you pressed on it. Also, Cushing's syndrome doesn't cause sweating.

I really can't say what might be causing these symptoms based on your description. I think your mother needs to continue to work closely with her primary care doctor on this. If Cushing's syndrome is a consideration, the testing for it is simple and it would be easy for your mother's doctor to order.

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Response by:

Thomas A Murphy, MD, FACP, FACE Thomas A Murphy, MD, FACP, FACE
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University