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Acromegaly: causes, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The hormone or growth somatotrópica acts primarily on the tissues and bones by stimulating their growth and regeneration, so when the hypophysis or pituitary gland secretes excessive amounts of this hormone produces a series of alterations and develops a disease known as Acromegaly.

This disease is not shared and is usually of long duration; worldwide, there are approximately 4 or 5 cases per 1,000 people a year. It can occur during adolescence or in the elderly but has a higher incidence in people between 40 and 60 years of age, mainly affecting women. If this alteration of the somatotropic hormones develops in childhood, it is called gigantism since it generates other consequences.

Presenting an abnormal growth hormone production entails several adverse reactions and serious complications, so it is essential to know how to detect its signs and see a doctor for timely treatment. For this reason, at FastlyHealwe are interested in informing you about Acromegaly: causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Causes of Acromegaly

Elevated growth hormone production by the pituitary gland may be due to a few reasons. Among the causes of Acromegaly, a tumor in the pituitary is the most common; it is primarily benign; although it is also possible that it is of the cancerous type, it is not sure what causes it, but it is suggested that the genetic factor plays an important role. In addition to the alteration in the secretion of the somatotropic hormone, the abnormal increase in the size of the tumor can press on the tissues around it and thus cause more significant discomfort.

Another possible cause of Acromegaly is the development of tumors elsewhere in the body, such as the adrenal glands or lungs. In this case, the high growth hormone production is due to the increased stimulation of the pituitary gland by the somatotrope or growth hormone-releasing hormone, which is secreted by the tumor.

Although it rarely happens, Acromegaly can be a side effect during artificial growth hormone replacement therapies, generally used in people who do not produce enough of this hormone, in disorders such as goiter, and control the development of nodules in the thyroid gland.

Main symptoms of Acromegaly

When an adult suffers from this disorder, the manifestations are not usually distinguished quickly since they are gradual. In many cases, people close to the patient can confuse the changes with the natural aging process. The acromegaly symptoms that occur are caused by the somatotropic hormone’s action and by the tumor’s possible growth. Symptoms of acromegaly disorder include:

  • Tiredness and muscle weakness.
  • Excessive sweating and body odor.
  • Thickening of the soft tissues of the hands and feet is usually accompanied by pain and redness.
  • Facial disfigurement, mainly the bones of the forehead and nose, is widened.
  • Widely spaced teeth and prominent jaw, the lower jaw moves forward.
  • Enlargement of the tongue, lips, and windpipe.
  • Headaches.
  • Vision disturbances due to pressure on the optic nerve due to the growth of the tumor.
  • Joint pain due to swelling of bone structures near the joint. Carpal tunnel syndrome develops frequently.
  • Sleep apnea is caused by the enlargement of the soft tissues of the mouth and throat.
  • Swelling of the sebaceous glands.
  • Hormonal deficiency with consequences such as alteration in sexual function, metabolism, or stress response.
  • Organ and gland enlargement with their respective complications, often the heart, liver, kidney, and thyroid gland.

Treatment to relieve Acromegaly

Once the disease has been diagnosed, the doctor will prescribe the best acromegaly treatment that fits the condition. In the first instance, it may suggest the surgical removal of the tumor, with this total or partial removal of it, will be sought, depending on its size and extension. This surgery is often enough to correct the high growth hormone production and make the symptoms disappear.

On the other hand, when the tumor has spread to areas where it cannot be operated on or the surgery has not been successful, focused radiation therapy is mainly used to treat Acromegaly. The objective is to shrink the tumor until it is operable, if it is the case, and at the same time to decrease the production of the somatotropic hormone. However, the results become slow; being necessary to be exposed to radiation periodically and for a long time, in addition to accompanying with drugs for better results.

Another treatment for Acromegaly that the doctor may prescribe is the use of specific drugs, mainly somatostatin analogs and dopamine agonists. The former is given by injections periodically and works well by lowering the amount of growth hormone and has sometimes helped shrink the tumor. While dopamine agonists also decrease the somatotropic hormone level, their effectiveness is usually lower, and their administration is oral.

This article is merely informative; at FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Acromegaly: causes, symptoms, and treatment, we recommend that you enter our Endocrine System category.

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