The symptoms, disabilities and life-style of a person with Cushing’s Syndrome depend on the degree of cortisol excess, the duration of the disease, the basic health of the person, but especially the type and curability of the Cushing’s Syndrome. If it is cured, all of the features of the disease can resolve, but this may take as long as 2 to 18 months. During that time, most people get annoyed and frustrated by the slow improvements in physical changes and the combination of Cushing’s and adrenal insufficiency signs and symptoms (dizziness, weakness, nausea, loss of appetite) as replacement steroid hormones are tapered and adrenal hormone production slowly improves toward normal. Frequent calls and visits to physicians are necessary.
During minor illness (., flu or fever >38° C [° F]) the hydrocortisone dose should be doubled for 2 or 3 days. The inability to ingest hydrocortisone tablets warrants parenteral administration. Most patients can be educated to self administer hydrocortisone, 100 mg IM, and reduce the risk of an emergency room visit. Hydrocortisone, 75 mg/day, provides adequate glucocorticoid coverage for outpatient surgery. Parenteral hydrocortisone, 150 to 200 mg/day (in three or four divided doses), is needed for major surgery, with a rapid taper to normal replacement during the recovery. Patients taking more than 100 mg hydrocortisone/day do not need any additional mineralocorticoid replacement. All patients should wear some form of identification indicating their adrenal insufficiency status.