What is Cushing syndrome? Comedian Amy Schumer diagnosed with rare hormonal disorder

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Comedian Amy Schumer has long been open about the health battles she has faced, despite being no stranger to criticism and controversy.

Schumer revealed in an interview Friday that she had been diagnosed with the hormonal disorder Cushing syndrome, following a slew of online criticism about her appearance. After appearing on "The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon" earlier in February to promote her Hulu show "Life & Beth," she clapped back at online critics commenting about her "puffier" face, writing that there were "some medical and hormonal things going on" in an Instagram post.

Here's what to know about Cushing syndrome and its symptoms and treatments.

What is Cushing syndrome?

Amy Schumer appears on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" on Feb. 13, 2024.
Amy Schumer appears on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" on Feb. 13, 2024.

Cushing syndrome is a rare disorder that occurs when the body has excessively high levels of the hormone cortisol for a long time, according to the National Institutes of Health. Cortisol plays a role in the body's response to stress, as well as other key bodily functions, such as lessening inflammation, controlling blood sugar and blood pressure, and ensuring that the heart and blood vessels are working properly.

There are two primary types of Cushing syndrome: exogenous and endogenous, which are differentiated based on the cause of the disorder.

Schumer revealed she has exogenous Cushing syndrome, the more common form of the disorder. It stems from causes outside of the body, such as glucocorticoids, a class of medicines that are used to treat many conditions, including inflammatory diseases, skin rashes and back or joint pain. Those who take glucocorticoids in large quantities over a long period may develop exogenous Cushing syndrome, as these medicines function like cortisol in the body.

Endogenous Cushing syndrome, the less common form of the disorder, is caused by factors within the body, such as excessive production of cortisol as a result of tumors.

More: Amy Schumer has been diagnosed with Cushing syndrome after criticism about 'puffier' face

What has Amy Schumer said about her diagnosis with Cushing syndrome?

Following online criticism about her appearance, Schumer opened up about her health journey with Cushing syndrome on Friday in an interview with journalist Jessica Yellin. The comedian revealed that she had been diagnosed with exogenous Cushing syndrome due to receiving high doses of steroid injections.

Earlier in February, Schumer acknowledged in an Instagram post that her face was "puffier than normal" after drawing online criticism. Schumer revealed to Yellin that these comments about her appearance while promoting season two of "Life & Beth" brought her to realize "something was wrong."

"While I was doing press on camera for my Hulu show, I was also in MRI machines four hours at a time, having my veins shut down from the amount of blood drawn and thinking I may not be around to see my son grow up," she said.

More: Amy Schumer calls out trolls, says she 'owes no explanation' for her 'puffier' face

Despite her fears about her health, Schumer said she felt "reborn" after discovering that the disorder would "work itself out."

For years, Schumer has been open about her journey with endometriosis, and she explained she was publicly revealing her Cushing syndrome diagnosis to continue to advocate for women’s health.

"I want so much for women to love themselves and be relentless when fighting for their own health in a system that usually doesn’t believe them," Schumer said to Yellin.

Cushing syndrome symptoms include rounded face

While Cushing syndrome has many signs and symptoms, the primary ones are a rounded face, a fatty hump between the shoulders and pink or purple stretch marks on the skin, according to Mayo Clinic. The rounded face that is associated with Cushing syndrome may sometimes be called "moon face," and it is caused by weight gain in that area of the body.

Patients with the disorder may also experience acne and have thin, frail skin that bruises easily. In addition, their bodies may be slow to heal any wounds.

If left untreated, Cushing syndrome can cause many other conditions, including bone loss, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

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Does Cushing syndrome go away?

While Cushing syndrome can be life-threatening if left untreated, it is curable with treatment in the majority of cases, according to the National Institutes of Health. Because treatment for the disorder aims to reduce cortisol levels in the body, different patients may receive different forms of treatment depending on the cause of their Cushing syndrome.

For example, patients who have Cushing syndrome as a result of glucocorticoids may be treated by gradually taking less of the medicine over time. For patients who have the disorder as a result of tumors, surgery may be recommended.

Even after patients are successfully treated for Cushing syndrome, they may still experience some health issues due to complications brought on by the disorder, such as weaker bones.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Amy Schumer has Cushing syndrome: What to know about rare disorder