Cushing Syndrome​

Cushing syndrome is when your child's body has abnormally high levels of a hormone called cortisol. Cushing syndrome is also known as Cushing's syndrome or hypercortisolism. It is relatively rare in children but children who have this condition are often obese and have a slowed rate of growth.

The most common cause of Cushing syndrome is an adrenal tumour (that is, a tumour located on the adrenal glands situated above the kidneys). Tumours in the pituitary gland can also cause Cushing disease. In some rare cases it may also be inherited.

The common symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome include:

  • weight gain, obesity

  • slower rate of growth

  • fatty deposits, especially in the face

  • stretch marks on the breasts, arms, abdomen, and thighs

  • thinning and easily bruised skin

  • cuts and infections that are slow to heal

  • acne

  • muscle weakness

  • glucose intolerance

  • bone loss

  • high blood pressure

  • headaches

  • cognitive dysfunction

  • irritability​

If your child is experiencing any of the above symptoms, please make an appointment to consult with one of our expert medical staff working with the Children's Hospital Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

There is no single conclusive test to diagnose Cushing’s syndrome. Your doctor will first conduct a thorough physical analysis of your child and assess his or her medical history and symptoms. Some tests that may help with the diagnosis include:

  • 24-hour urinary free cortisol test

  • midnight plasma cortisol and late-night salivary cortisol measurements

  • specialized blood tests

After the condition is diagnosed, the cause of your child’s excess cortisol production must still be determined. Some of these tests to assess this may include:

  • Specialized blood tests

  • Imaging tests such as Computed Tomography (CT) scan and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Treatment for Cushing's syndrome varies, depending on the cause of the problem. Your doctor working with the Children's Hospital Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital, may prescribe some medication to help control cortisol levels in your child and ease some of the symptoms.

Cushing's syndrome may also develop due to tumours that may or may not be cancerous, and require surgery to remove them. In some cases, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may also be recommended.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage




The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.