Reasons You Have Flab Around Your Abdomen

Some diseases and conditions could be responsible for your abdominal fat.
Mita Majumdar | Updated: April 24, 2017 6:15 pm

Visceral fat or unhealthy belly fat that surrounds the liver and other organs in the abdomen puts you at risk for serious health problems, such as, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. But, what causes your pot belly or beer fat in the first place? The most obvious answers you will get is – ‘You are not exercising enough’, or, ‘you are eating too much of fatty foods or sugary foods’, or ‘you are not eating the right foods’, or ultimately, ‘It’s genetics! You got it from your parents’. All of these reasons are true, of course. However, some diseases/ disorders and conditions, too, could be responsible for your abdominal fat and these have nothing to do with not exercising or not eating right. Following are some of these disorders.

Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome, also called hypercortisolism, is an endocrine disorder that occurs when your body is exposed to high cortisol levels over a long period of time. It is a treatable disorder, however, if it is chronic, the symptoms can last lifelong.

Symptoms: Symptoms vary according to the severity of the disorder. The characteristic symptoms include –

  • Fatty tissue deposits in the midsection
  • Fatty deposits in the upper back, especially between the shoulders, so that it resembles a hump
  • Puffy face
  • Violaceous stretch marks (pink or purple) on the arms, breast, stomach, and thighs that are more than 1 cm wide. [1]
  • Easy bruising
  • Fatigue
  • Hirsutism and irregularity in menstruation in women
  • Loss of libido and erectile dysfunction in men
  • Cognitive dysfunction, depression, unpredictable emotional outbursts, irritability is present in 70-85 percent of people with Cushing’s syndrome.[1]

Causes:

  • Overuse of corticosteroids
  • Overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal glands

Management:

  • Surgery is the first line of treatment for Cushing’s syndrome.
  • Medication include: [2]

a.Pituitary gland directed therapy

b.Adrenal-blocking drugs

c.Glucocorticoid receptor-antagonizing drugs

  • Pituitary radiotherapy

Addison’s disease

Addison’s disease, also called adrenal insufficiency, is a disorder where your adrenal glands produce insufficient hormones, especially, glucocorticoids including cortisol and aldosterone. It is a life-threatening disease that can affect anyone irrespective of their gender or age.

How do glucocorticoids influence abdominal fats? Glucocorticoids including cortisol convert the fats into energy in the liver. They also help your body respond to stress. When sufficient amount of glucocorticoids are not produced by the adrenal glands, the fats accumulate in the abdominal area, and you see it as flab around your middle.

Symptoms:

  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Low blood sugar and low blood pressure
  • Salt craving as one of the functions of adrenal glands is to maintain the sodium-potassium balance in the body
  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain
  • Weight loss but gain in abdominal fat

Causes:

  • Insufficient production of adrenal cortex hormones
  • Stopping of prescribed corticosteroids
  • Tuberculosis and other infections of adrenal glands
  • Spread of cancer to the adrenal glands

Management:

  • Oral corticosteroids or corticosteroid injections
  • Intravenous injections of hydrocortisone, saline solution, and dextrose in case of Addisonian crisis

Stress

Chronic stress is a very big cause of belly fat. When you are exposed to stress, a chain reaction starts in the body because of the dysregulation of HPA axis of the neuroendocrine system. HPA axis is a complex interaction between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands. The hypothalamus produces a corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) and vasopressin. These together stimulate the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH is transported by the blood to the adrenal glands, which then produces corticosteroids, mainly, cortisol from cholesterol. One of the functions of cortisol is to signal the body to store fat, and specifically, the fat storage occurs in the abdominal area, where the cortisol receptors are greater. Researchers have found that stress causes hyperactivation of HPA axis, leading to accumulation of fat tissue, especially in the abdomen region.

So, the more and longer you are stressed (or if you are chronically stressed), chances are that you will be carrying more belly fat!

Ascites

Ascites is the buildup of fluid in the abdominal space. Ascites usually occurs in people with cancer, and it is then called malignant ascites. Onset of ascites is generally the terminal phase in cancer. Ascites also occurs in patients with liver cirrhosis, kidney failure, or heart disease.

Symptoms:

The first sign of ascites is an increase in abdominal girth accompanied by weight gain. [4] Although it looks like it is belly fat, it is actually the fluid that causes the bulging.

Other symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling in the feet and ankle
  • Decreased appetite, sense of fullness, bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Haemorrhoids

Management:

If the ascites is not causing any discomfort, it may not require any treatment. Treatment of ascites can have many side effects. Talk to your doctor before you go in for management/ treatment.

Abdominal hernia

Abdominal hernia is a swelling or a bulge in the abdominal area where an organ or fatty tissue pushes through a weak spot in the abdominal wall. The abdominal wall is made up of tough connective tissue and tendons that stretch from the ribs to the groin. Depending on the position of the weakness in your abdominal wall, the hernia can be inguinal (groin), femoral (upper thigh), umbilical (belly button), hiatal (upper stomach), or even incisional. Incisional hernia can occur when the intestine pushes through a weak spot at the site of abdominal surgery.

Symptoms:

  • Visible bulge that may or may not cause discomfort
  • Feeling of heaviness in the abdomen
  • Sharp pain when you strain or lift objects

Causes:

  • Constipation and diarrhoea
  • Persistent coughing and sneezing
  • Straining or suddenly lifting a heavy object

Management:

  • Umbilical hernia, common in young children, mostly resolves by itself as the abdominal muscles get stronger.
  • Other abdominal hernia normally do not resolve by themselves. Doctors suggest waiting and watching.
  • If treatment is required, surgery is the only option. Surgery involves pushing the hernia back into the abdomen and repairing the abdominal wall.

Menopause

Menopause is certainly not a disease or a disorder. It is the time in a woman’s life when she stops menstruating and cannot become pregnant because her ovaries stop producing the required amounts of hormones oestrogen and progesterone. A woman reaches menopause when she has not had her periods for 12 months.

Symptoms:

  • Hot flashes and/ or night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances

It is very common to gain belly fat during menopause. This is because of the low oestrogen levels. Oestrogen seems to influence the distribution of fat in the body, in a way that the fat is redistributed from the hips, buttocks, and thighs to the belly. However, a study published in the journal Metabolism reported that though women did significantly gain belly fat, especially deep inside the belly, relative fat distribution is not significantly different after menopause. [5] But the fact remains that women do gain flab in the abdomen after menopause.

Belly fat can be seriously harmful. If your belly fat is not because of the above-mentioned conditions, you can lose it by adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes sleeping enough, exercising regularly, eating right, and reducing stress.

Reference

  1. Sharma ST, Nieman LK, Feelders RA. Cushing’s syndrome: epidemiology and developments in disease management. Clinical Epidemiology. 2015;7:281-293. doi:10.2147/CLEP.S44336.
  1. Feelders RA, Hofland LJ. Medical treatment of Cushing’s disease. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;98:425–438.
  1. Kyrou I, Chrousos GP, Tsigos C. Stress, visceral obesity, and metabolic complications. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Nov;1083:77-110.
  1. Sinicrope FA. Ascites. In: Kufe DW, Pollock RE, Weichselbaum RR, et al., editors. Holland-Frei Cancer Medicine. 6th edition. Hamilton (ON): BC Decker; 2003.
  2. Franklin RM, Ploutz-Snyder L, Kanaley JA. Longitudinal changes in abdominal fat distribution with menopause. Metabolism. 2009 Mar;58(3):311-5. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2008.09.030.

Adapted from http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/reasons-you-have-flab-around-your-abdomen-f0417/

 

Day 19, Cushing’s Awareness Challenge 2016

In case you haven’t guessed it, my cause seems to be Cushing’s Awareness.  I never really decided to devote a good portion of my life to Cushing’s, it just fell into my lap, so to speak – or my laptop.

I had been going along, raising my son, keeping the home-fires burning,  trying to forget all about Cushing’s.  My surgery had been a success, I was in remission, some of the symptoms were still with me but they were more of an annoyance than anything.

I started being a little active online, especially on AOL.  At this time, I started going through real-menopause, not the fake one I had gone through with Cushing’s.  Surprisingly, AOL had a group for Cushing’s people but it wasn’t very active.

What was active, though, was a group called Power Surge (as in I’m not having a hot flash, I’m having a Power Surge).  I became more and more active in that group, helping out where I could, posting a few links here and there.

Around this time I decided to go back to college to get a degree in computer programming but I also wanted a basic website for my piano studio.  I filled out a form on Power Surge to request a quote for building one.  I was very surprised when Power Surge founder/webmaster Alice (AKA Dearest) called me.  I was so nervous.  I’m not a good phone person under the best of circumstances and here she was, calling me!

I had to go to my computer class but I said I’d call when I got back.  Alice showed me how to do some basic web stuff and I was off.  As these things go, the O’Connor Music Studio page grew and grew…  And so did the friendship between Alice and me.  Alice turned out to be the sister I never had, most likely better than any sister I could have had.

In July of 2000, Alice and I were wondering why there weren’t many support groups online (OR off!) for Cushing’s. This thought percolated through my mind for a few hours and I realized that maybe this was my calling. Maybe I should be the one to start a network of support for other “Cushies” to help them empower themselves.

I wanted to educate others about the awful disease that took doctors years of my life to diagnose and treat – even after I gave them the information to diagnose me. I didn’t want anyone else to suffer for years like I did. I wanted doctors to pay more attention to Cushing’s disease.

The first website (http://www.cushings-help.com) went “live” July 21, 2000. It was just a single page of information. The message boards began September 30, 2000 with a simple message board which then led to a larger one, and a larger. Today, in 2012, we have over 8 thousand members. Some “rare disease”!

This was on the intro page of Cushing’s Help until 2013…

I would like to give abundant thanks Alice Lotto Stamm, founder of Power Surge, premier site for midlife women, for giving me the idea to start this site, encouraging me to learn HTML and web design, giving us the use of our first spiffy chatroom, as well as giving me the confidence that I could do this. Alice has helped so many women with Power Surge. I hope that I can emulate her to a smaller degree with this site.

Thanks so much for all your help and support, Alice!

In August 2013 my friend died.  In typical fashion, I started another website

I look around the house and see things that remind me of Alice.  Gifts, print outs, silly stuff, memories, the entire AOL message boards on floppy disks…

Alice, I love you and will miss you always…

MaryOOneRose

Recurrent sellar mass after resection of pituitary macroadenoma

A Puerto Rican woman aged 50 years presented to an ophthalmologist with complaints of vision changes, including difficulty seeing images in her peripheral vision in both eyes and difficulty in color perception. Her medical history was significant for menopause at age 43 years, type 2 diabetes and hypertension. She had no prior history of thyroid disease, changes in her weight, dizziness or lightheadedness, headaches, galactorrhea or growth of her hands or feet.

Formal visual fields showed bitemporal superior quadrantopsia, and she was sent to the ED for further evaluation.

Imaging and laboratory tests

A pituitary protocol MRI was performed that showed a large 3 cm x 2 cm x 2.2 cm mass in the pituitary with mild osseous remodeling of the sella turcica and mass effect on the optic chiasm (Figure 1). The mass was isointense with the brain parenchyma on T1-weighted and T2-weighted images and homogeneously enhanced after IV gadolinium contrast administration.

Baseline laboratory samples drawn at 11 p.m. in the ED showed a cortisol of 16.9 µg/dL (nighttime reference range: 3-16 µg/dL), adrenocorticotropic hormone 65 pg/mL (reference range: 6-50 pg/mL), prolactin 19.4 ng/mL (reference range: 5.2-26.5 ng/mL), thyroid-stimulating hormone 1.36 µIU/mL (reference range: 0.35-4.9 µIU/mL), free thyroxine 0.9 ng/dL (reference range: 0.6-1.8 ng/dL), triiodothyronine 85 ng/dL (reference range: 83-160 ng/dL), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) 11.1 mIU/mL (postmenopausal reference range: 26.7- 133.4 mIU/mL) and luteinizing hormone (LH) 1.2 mIU/mL (postmenopausal reference range: 5.2-62 mIU/mL).

 

Figure 1. T1-weighted MRI images with and without contrast of the pituitary. Coronal (A) and sagittal (C) images showed a large isodense (with brain parenchyma) 3 cm x 2 cm x 2.2 cm mass (red arrow) in the sella with superior extension to the optic chiasm. After gadolinium contrast, coronal (B) and sagittal (D) images show the mass homogenously enhances consistent with a pituitary adenoma.

Images courtesy of Pavani Srimatkandada, MD.

Given the patient’s high nighttime cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels, she underwent an overnight dexamethasone suppression test with 1 mg dexamethasone. Her morning cortisol was appropriately suppressed to less than 1 µg/dL, excluding Cushing’s disease.

Pituitary adenoma resection

The patient was diagnosed with a nonsecreting pituitary adenoma with suprasellar extension and optic chiasm compression with visual field deficits. The macroadenoma caused an inappropriately normal LH and FSH in a postmenopausal woman consistent with hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism.

She underwent transnasal transsphenoidal resection of the nonsecreting pituitary adenoma. The dural defect caused by the surgery was patched with an abdominal fat graft with a DuraSeal dura patch. A postoperative MRI showed complete resection of the adenoma with no evaluable tumor in the sella (Figure 2). Her postoperative course was complicated by transient diabetes insipidus requiring intermittent desmopressin; however, this resolved before her discharge from the hospital.

Figure 2. T1-weighted MRI images with contrast. Coronal views before (A) and after (B) transphenoidal tumor resection show complete resolution of the enhancing pituitary mass (A; red arrow) that is replaced with a new hypodense mass in the sella (B; yellow arrow). This mass is filled with cerebrospinal fluid with a residual rim of enhancing tissue. This is consistent with the development of a pseudomeningocele in the sella.

 

Postoperative testing confirmed secondary deficiency of the adrenal, thyroid and ovarian axes requiring hormone therapy. The patient had stable temporal hemianopia in the left eye with improved vision in the right eye.

Recurrent mass detected

One year after surgery, during a routine follow-up appointment, the patient reported no dizziness, lightheadedness, worsening vision changes, rhinorrhea or headache. She had a follow-up MRI of the brain with and without contrast, which showed the interval appearance of a mass in the sella that extended from the sphenoid sinus into the sella and came in contact with the optic nerve (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Axial MRI images of the sella after resection of pituitary adenoma. On T1-weighted images the mass (red arrow) in the sella is hypodense (black) compared with the brain parenchyma. On T2-weighted images, the mass (red arrow) is hyperdense (bright) compared with the brain, consistent with fluid. Cerebrospinal fluid in the sulci on the brain surface and the vitreous fluid within the eye are also hyperintense on T2-weighted images (yellow arrows).

 

On MRI, the mass was isodense with the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) with a residual rim of enhancing normal pituitary tissue. This appearance is consistent with the postoperative development of a pseudomeningocele and not a solid mass in the sella (Table).

Pseudomeningoceles are abnormal collections of CSF that communicate with the CSF space around the brain; these occur after brain surgery involving duraplasty (incision and repair of the dura). Unlike meningoceles, pseudomeningoceles are not completely encased by a surrounding membrane, and they communicate with the circulating CSF. Similar to CSF, a pseudomeningocele is hypodense (dark) compared with brain on T1-weighted MRI images and hyperdense (bright) on T2-weight images.

 

Pseudomeningocele treatment

Treatment may be conservative or may involve neurosurgical repair if symptomatic. Little published data addresses the development of pseudomeningoceles after transsphenoidal pituitary surgery, but this complication occasionally occurs, especially if the dural incision is large. One study noted that pseudomeningoceles are one of the most common complications after suboccipital decompression for Chiari’s malformation, but the effect of this complication is unclear.

Endocrinologists must recognize that recurrent development of pituitary masses after transsphenoidal pituitary adenoma surgery may not represent regrowth of pituitary tissue, but instead development of a meningocele/pseudomeningocele. Pseudomeningocele can be easily confirmed because this fluid collection has very different MRI characteristics than pituitary adenoma (Table). Given that patients may remain asymptomatic after the development of a pseudomeningocele, periodic MRI imaging, hormonal evaluation and ophthalmologic monitoring of visual fields are required after transsphenoidal pituitary surgery.

References:
  • Hernandez Guilabert PM. Poster No C-1330. Presented at: European Society of Radiology; March 7-11, 2013; Vienna.
  • Parker SL, et al. J Neurosurg. 2013;doi:10.3171/2013.8.JNS122106.
For more information:
  • Stephanie L. Lee, MD, PhD, ECNU, is an associate professor of medicine and associate chief, in the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition at Boston Medical Center. Lee can be reached at Boston Medical Center, 88 E. Newton St., Endocrinology Evans 201, Boston, MA 02118; email: stephanie.lee@bmc.org. Lee reports no relevant financial disclosures.
  • Pavani Srimatkandada, MD, is an endocrinology fellow in the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition at Boston Medical Center. Srimatkandada can be reached at Boston Medical Center, 88 E. Newton St., Endocrinology Evans 201, Boston, MA 02118. She reports no relevant financial disclosures.

From http://www.healio.com/endocrinology/thyroid/news/print/endocrine-today/%7B82430fb6-bbe4-4908-a389-447eee8cd005%7D/recurrent-sellar-mass-after-resection-of-pituitary-macroadenoma

Day Twenty-nine, Cushing’s Awareness Challenge 2015

 

In case you haven’t guessed it, my cause seems to be Cushing’s Awareness.  I never really decided to devote a good portion of my life to Cushing’s, it just fell into my lap, so to speak – or my laptop.

I had been going along, raising my son, keeping the home-fires burning,  trying to forget all about Cushing’s.  My surgery had been a success, I was in remission, some of the symptoms were still with me but they were more of an annoyance than anything.

I started being a little active online, especially on AOL.  At this time, I started going through real-menopause, not the fake one I had gone through with Cushing’s.  Surprisingly, AOL had a group for Cushing’s people but it wasn’t very active.

What was active, though, was a group called Power Surge (as in I’m not having a hot flash, I’m having a Power Surge).  I became more and more active in that group, helping out where I could, posting a few links here and there.

Around this time I decided to go back to college to get a degree in computer programming but I also wanted a basic website for my piano studio.  I filled out a form on Power Surge to request a quote for building one.  I was very surprised when Power Surge founder/webmaster Alice (AKA Dearest) called me.  I was so nervous.  I’m not a good phone person under the best of circumstances and here she was, calling me!

I had to go to my computer class but I said I’d call when I got back.  Alice showed me how to do some basic web stuff and I was off.  As these things go, the O’Connor Music Studio page grew and grew…  And so did the friendship between Alice and me.  Alice turned out to be the sister I never had, most likely better than any sister I could have had.

In July of 2000, Alice and I were wondering why there weren’t many support groups online (OR off!) for Cushing’s. This thought percolated through my mind for a few hours and I realized that maybe this was my calling. Maybe I should be the one to start a network of support for other “Cushies” to help them empower themselves.

I wanted to educate others about the awful disease that took doctors years of my life to diagnose and treat – even after I gave them the information to diagnose me. I didn’t want anyone else to suffer for years like I did. I wanted doctors to pay more attention to Cushing’s disease.

The first website (http://www.cushings-help.com) went “live” July 21, 2000. It was just a single page of information. The message boards began September 30, 2000 with a simple message board which then led to a larger one, and a larger. Today, in 2012, we have over 8 thousand members. Some “rare disease”!

This was on the intro page of Cushing’s Help until 2013…

I would like to give abundant thanks Alice Lotto Stamm, founder of Power Surge, premier site for midlife women, for giving me the idea to start this site, encouraging me to learn HTML and web design, giving us the use of our first spiffy chatroom, as well as giving me the confidence that I could do this. Alice has helped so many women with Power Surge. I hope that I can emulate her to a smaller degree with this site.

Thanks so much for all your help and support, Alice!

 

In August 2013 my friend died.  In typical fashion, I started another website

I look around the house and see things that remind me of Alice.  Gifts, print outs, silly stuff, memories, the entire AOL message boards on floppy disks…

Alice, I love you and will miss you always…

MaryOOneRose

Menopause, Obesity, and Diabetes Top ENDO 2015 Agenda

ENDO_2015

 

Menopause, obesity, and diabetes will top the clinical agenda at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, ENDO 2015, with a focus on personalized and precision approaches to disease management.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals will also take the stage at the meeting, which runs from Thursday, March 5, through Sunday, March 8, in San Diego, California. New research to be presented includes an examination of the economic costs of exposure to these chemicals and their potential teratogenic effects.

Other topics on the agenda are the effects of male obesity on a couple’s fertility, a nasal spray that could cut calorie consumption, and a renewed look at the long-term safety of menopausal hormone therapy.

“The Endocrine Society is really known for cutting-edge research,” society president Richard J Santen, MD, from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, told Medscape Medical News.

“For many of us in the field, it’s the premier meeting for both science and clinical reviews and new science presentations and networking,” added steering committee chair Matthew Ringel, MD, from Wexner Medical Center, Ohio State University, Columbus. “We’re excited about trying to increase the clinical-science part of the meeting and what would be relevant to clinical, basic, and translational-research attendees.”

As always, the meeting will feature bench science, bedside medicine, and the translation from one to the other, including plenary talks on both precision and personalized approaches to menopause, new genetic discoveries in obesity that could point to novel treatment targets, the link between antihyperglycemic therapy and cardiovascular disease, and fresh insights into the mechanisms of polycystic ovary syndrome.

The meeting begins the morning of Thursday, March 5, with two presidential plenary talks: “Genomics, Pharmacogenomics, and Functional Genomics in Menopausal Women: Implications for Precision Medicine,” by oncologist James N Ingle, MD, from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, and “Personalized Menopause Management: Clinical and Biomarker Data That Inform Decision Making,” by JoAnn E Manson, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

“This issue of precision medicine has been such a hot topic, but people don’t really understand it. So the fact that we’re going to feature it in the very first talk is of interest,” Dr Santen said.

While this talk will offer a glimpse of the future, individualized approaches to menopause treatment are already here and will be featured in the session immediately following the plenary, when “Treatment of Symptoms of Menopause: An Endocrine Society Clinical-Practice Guideline” will be presented.

Wide Range of Endocrine Topics Will Be Addressed

Two other clinical-practice guidelines, on management of primary adrenal insufficiency and treatment of Cushing’s syndrome, will also be revealed during the meeting, on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

And in a special scientific session on Friday, Janet Woodcock, MD, director of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, will speak on “Safety and Efficacy of Diabetes Drugs: Steering Between Scylla and Charybdis.”

Meanwhile, clinically focused “Meet the Professor” sessions will address obesity and diabetes, along with a wide range of other endocrine topics, including flushing and sweating disorders, vitamin D, thyroid, gynecomastia, endocrine tumors, testosterone therapy, and genetic counseling for endocrine patients. .

The meeting’s move — from June in previous years to March — means that it is no longer back-to-back with the annual scientific sessions of the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

“We’ve moved the meeting to March, which allows us some separation from the ADA to give us an opportunity to pull in some top diabetes topics and speakers. We’ve always done that over the years, but it allows a little more focus on that area,” Dr Ringel noted.

And, he hopes, more clinicians will be able to attend both meetings going forward. “Years ago, people tried to go to both, one after the other….It’s especially hard for clinicians to be away for that length of time,” he said.

There’s another new feature for ENDO 2015 that is likely to prove popular: “Endocrine Science Social” events will take place at 6:00 pm following the afternoon symposia each day, so attendees can discuss the topics over drinks.

“The philosophy is there’s synergy between scientists and clinicians,” Dr Santen explained.

“With more than 8000 attendees expected, the meeting overall is too big for networking, so we’re going to have a social gathering after the sessions each afternoon.”

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