Common Endocrine Disorders Cheat Sheet

Endocrine disorders alter a patient’s health and self-image. These disorders may affect the patient’s growth and development, reproductive system, energy level, metabolic rate, or ability to adapt to stress. Some disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome and goiter, profoundly alter the body. Others, such as diabetes mellitus, require the patient to follow a stringent drug regimen and meal plan.


Here is a quick overview of the four most common endocrine disorders. The top part of the Picture details, the two opposing adrenal disorders – Cushing’s syndrome and Addison’s disease. The bottom compares two opposing thyroid problems – hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.



Cushing’s syndrome

A disorder of adrenal hyperfunction, Cushing’s syndrome results from excessive levels of adrenocortical hormones (particularly cortisol) or related corticosteroids and, to a lesser extent, androgens and aldosterone. Its unmistakable signs include adiposity of the face (moon face), neck, and trunk and purple striae on the skin, especially the abdomen. Cushing’s syndrome is more common in females than males by a 5:1 margin. Prognosis depends on the underlying cause; it’s poor in untreated persons and in those with untreatable ectopic corticotropin-secreting carcinoma or metastatic adrenal carci noma.

What causes of Cushing Syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome can stem from:

  • pituitary hypersecretion of corticotropin (Cushing’s disease)
  • corticotropin-secreting tumor in another organ (particularly bronchogenic or pancreatic carcinoma)
  • administration of synthetic glucocorticoids
  • adrenal tumor, which is usually benign in adults (less common cause).

Addison’s disease

The most common form of adrenal hypofunction, Addison’s disease occurs when more than 90% of the adrenal gland is destroyed. With early diagnosis and adequate replacement therapy, the prognosis for adrenal hypofunction is good. Acute adrenal insufficiency, or adrenal crisis (addisonian crisis), is a medical emergency requiring immediate, rigorous treatment.

Causes of Addison`s disease

Although autoimmune causes are the most common causes of Addison’s disease, it can also result from:

  • tuberculosis
  • bilateral adrenalectomy
  • hemorrhage into the adrenal gland
  • neoplasms
  • fungal infections.
  • Secondary adrenal hypofunction can be caused by:
  • hypopituitarism
  • abrupt withdrawal of long-term corticosteroid therapy
  • removal of a nonendocrine, corticotropin-secreting tumor.

Hyperthyroidism, also known as Grave’s disease, is an automimmune disease where there are high levels of circulating thyroid hormones in the body. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones.

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