Acromegaly is a hormonal condition that occurs when the pituitary gland generates too much growth hormone in maturity.
Your bones develop in size when you have too much growth hormone. This causes gigantism in children, which is defined as an increase in height. In adulthood, however, there is no variation in height. Acromegaly, on the other hand, refers to an increase in bone size that is limited to your hands, feet, and face.
Because acromegaly is rare and physical abnormalities take years to emerge, it may take a long time to identify the disease. High amounts of growth hormone, if left untreated, can harm your bones as well as other parts of your body. This can result in significant, even life-threatening health issues. Treatment, on the other hand, can lower your chance of problems and dramatically improve your symptoms, including facial expansion.
Acromegaly can produce a variety of symptoms, which usually appear gradually over time.
Swollen hands and feet are among the first signs. You may notice a change in your ring or shoe size, as well as fatigue and sleeping problems, as well as sleep apnea.
numbness and weakness in your hands, caused by a compressed nerve, progressive changes in your facial characteristics, such as your brow, lower jaw, and nose growing bigger, or your teeth becoming more widely spread (carpal tunnel syndrome)
- The height of children and teens will be unusually high.
- Symptoms include unusually big hands and feet as time goes by.
- Skin changes such as thick, coarse, greasy skin, skin tags, or excessive perspiration thickening of the voice as a result of expanded sinuses and vocal cords
- Joint discomfort, exhaustion, and weakness
- Headaches lack of sex drive irregular periods (in women) and erection difficulties (in men)
- Acromegaly’s dangers
- If you do not receive treatment, you may develop type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Illness of the heart
Muscle disease of the heart (cardiomyopathy)
If left untreated, arthritis can lead to intestinal polyps, which can lead to bowel cancer.
If you’ve been diagnosed with acromegaly, a colonoscopy may be advised due to the risk of developing intestinal polyps. A colonoscopy may be required on a regular basis.
Acromegaly can be caused by a variety of factors.
Acromegaly is caused by an excess of growth hormone produced by the pituitary gland (a pea-sized gland located immediately below the brain).
This is generally caused by an adenoma, a non-cancerous tumour in the pituitary gland.
The majority of acromegaly symptoms are caused by an overabundance of growth hormone, although others are caused by the tumour pushing on adjacent tissues. If a tumour presses against adjacent nerves, for example, you may get headaches and visual difficulties.
Acromegaly is a condition that can run in families, however it is seldom inherited. Adenomas generally form spontaneously as a result of a genetic mutation in a pituitary gland cell. This alteration leads the afflicted cells to expand out of control, resulting in a tumour.
A tumour in another region of the body, such as the lungs, pancreas, or another portion of the brain, can occasionally induce acromegaly. It’s also possible that it’s connected to some hereditary problems.
You may not obtain a diagnosis right immediately since the symptoms of acromegaly generally develop gradually over several years. Your doctor may ask you to bring in pictures of yourself from the last few years so that he or she may search for the telltale signs of ageing.
Tests on the blood
If your doctor believes you have acromegaly, a blood test to check your growth hormone levels is required.
Before having a series of blood samples collected, you may be asked to drink a sugary solution to ensure that the blood test produces an accurate result. Drinking the solution should prevent the release of growth hormone in persons who do not have acromegaly. Growth hormone levels in the blood will stay elevated in patients with acromegaly. A glucose tolerance test is what it’s called.
Another hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1 will be measured by your doctor. A high level of IGF-1 is a good indicator that you could develop acromegaly.
Acromegaly treatment is determined by your symptoms. The objective is usually to: lower growth hormone production to normal levels. Cure any hormone shortages and alleviate the strain that a tumour may be placing on adjacent tissues
Enhance your signs and symptoms
A pituitary tumour is removed in the majority of patients with acromegaly. Medicine or radiation may be required in addition to or instead of surgery in some cases.