Cushing’s Disease

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Laura Copeland was a twenty four year old Peace Corp representative in Ethiopia. During her work her health seemed to be “off” (Magic Foundation 2014). Some of the odd health effects were extreme weight gain, deep purple stretch marks, slow wound healing, hair loss, “severely depressed with suicidal ideation”, and a ceased menstrual cycle. Her Manager and the other people involved with her care became severely concerned. She was flown out to Washington D.C. to get a medical evaluation, and was placed on suicide watch in the mental ward. She spent 28 days in the hospital being poked, and prodded as a “human lab rat.” While all this testing was going on a nurse noticed on Laura’s ID that her face had become significantly rounder in appearance than it was when the picture was taken ”moon face”. She mentioned this to Laura’s doctors who immediately ordered a 24 hour urinary sample. The nurse’s suspicions were confirmed, and Laura was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. After receiving an MRI a tumor was located on Laura’s pituitary gland. Laura received three brain surgeries to remove the “gooey tumor.” Laura’s cortisol levels are still not, and may never return to normal. However with diet, exercise, and medication she can keep the symptoms in control for now.

Cushing’s disease:

The hypothalamus in the brain is above the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus releases corticotrophin (CHR) which is a chemical messenger. CHR stimulates the pituitary gland to release adrenal corticotrophin (ACTH). ACTH which is released into the blood then signals the adrenal gland. When the adrenal gland receives ACTH it is the chemical signal for cortisol production. In a normal system cortisol (an anti-inflammatory) production would st...

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