This condition, in which fat deposits gradually make one’s face appear rounder, can be the result of Cushing’s syndrome. Cushing’s is a rare hormonal issue that happens when the body has been exposed for too long to too much cortisole; hence another term for this discorder is hypercortisolism.
The primary causes of Cushing’s are tumors on the pituitary or adrenal glands or sometimes in the pancreas or lung. The most common cause, however is steroid medicine, often given orally to combat dieases which cause inflammation. People who suffer from obesity, poorly controlled diabetes, and high blood pressure face an increased risk, according the National Endocrine and Metabolic Disease Information Service.
Symptoms beyond moon facies include muscle weakness, changes in mood, changes to skin, backaches, abnormal hair growth, increased blood sugar, and high blood pressure. Lab tests for cortisol levels are done to diagnose the syndrome; with additional tests to determine the syndrome’s cause. Several tests may be needed and they may require hospitalization as cortisol levels will have to be measured periodically over set number of hours.
Treatment will depend on the cause. If a tumor is the source, it may need to be removed surgically. Radiation is another possible remedy. If it is steriod medicine, the patient must, with her or his doctor’s supervision, reduce the dosage or switch medications.
The symptoms such as muscle tone loss, muscle weakness, heightened blood pressure, and increased blood sugar can be damaging to one’s health so care must be taken to remain physically active and eat healthy. Otherwise the patient might develop diabetes, high blood pressure or osteoporosis.
The National Institutes for Health is looking into Cushing’s causes and potential treatments. For example, current studies focus on what causes a benign endocrine tumor to form, such as specific gene defects. It is hoped new therapies can develop from this research.