Rare condition called Cushing’s Disease may be underreported

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – When it comes to statistics, Cushing’s Disease is not considered common, but experts believe it that may be in part due to the difficulty in diagnosing the condition.

It wasn’t until after the birth of her son that Irmani Hemphill started noticing some curious changes in her health including high blood pressure, hyper pigmentation, extreme fatigue and sudden weight gain in her abdomen.

“I literally gained 5 pounds overnight and I thought it was water weight but it never went away and it started continuing,” Hemphill said.

As a doctor herself, she started to investigate the possible causes and came up with a diagnosis: Cushing’s Disease.

“It was very alarming but almost relieving because something explained what was going on,” she said.

Dr. Hamid Borghei-Razavi said Hemphill’s condition was caused by a tumor on her pituitary gland which was causing her adrenal glands to produce excessive amounts of the hormone cortisol.

“Cortisol goes everywhere in the body it increase the blood pressure, the sugar in the blood, it affects the skin, it affects the muscles and makes the muscles very weak and also increases the fat in the body so the patient gets overweight,” said Borghei-Razavi, with the Department of Neurosurgery at the Cleveland Clinic Weston.

In Hemphill’s case, the tumor was so small it didn’t show up on an MRI but a secondary test confirmed its presence and doctors were able to surgically remove it.

“We went through the nose with endoscopy and we were able to find the tumor and send it for the pathology and the patient went into remission after surgery,” he said.

“I just felt like God has given me a new life. I feel clear, I can practice and mostly I can be an advocate for patients. I can say maybe let’s order this so we don’t delay diagnosis,” Hemphill said.

Without treatment, Cushing’s can lead to bone loss, Type-2 diabetes and frequent or unusual infections.

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