ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Acromegaly: Growth Hormone Overproduction

Updated on March 20, 2012

Overview

Acromegaly is a rare endocrinal condition characterized by skin thickening, swelling and enlargement of bones and tissues. It is caused by an increase in the secretion of growth hormone by your pituitary gland. It is a gradual disorder that develops over years, and may not be even noticed until long time passes away. Many serious health problems and complication up to premature death are associated with Acromegaly. However, it is a treatable and controllable condition.


Acromegaly
Acromegaly

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of Acromegaly are caused by increased growth of all body tissues. One of the most common symptoms of Acromegaly is the enlargement of your hands and feet. You may notice that you have to replace your shoes frequently with a large-sized one, or your ring is no longer fit to your fingers.

In most cases, Acromegaly is associated with back and joint pain. The slow progress of the features of Acromegaly may make it unnoticeable for many years, up to ten years. Sometimes, it is only noticed when you compare your old photos with your recent appearance.

The typical symptoms and signs of Acromegaly include:


Changes in body organs

  • Enlargement of hands and feet.
  • Barrel chest, due to increased chest size.
  • Enlarged liver, spleen, heart, kidney and other viscera.
  • Deepened and husky voice due to enlargement of vocal cords.
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness.

Changes in face features

  • Larger and coarser features of your face.
  • Enlarged nose.
  • Protrusion of the lower jaw.
  • Underbite, which means that your lower teeth extend beyond the upper teeth.
  • Thickened lips.
  • Enlargement of the tongue.


Acromegaly photos:

Click thumbnail to view full-size
#1: Acromegalic changes in the features of the face. Most cases are discovered by comparison of old photos with the recent look.#2: Facial coarse features caused by Acromegaly.#3: Acromegalic enlargement of face and hand.#4: Facial features of Acromegaly.#5: Changes in body appearance associated with Acromegaly.#6: Acromegalic enlargement of hand.#7: The hand become too large due to excess growth hormone. Look the difference between two hands.#8: Another photo demonstrating the huge enlargement of hands.
#1: Acromegalic changes in the features of the face. Most cases are discovered by comparison of old photos with the recent look.
#1: Acromegalic changes in the features of the face. Most cases are discovered by comparison of old photos with the recent look.
#2: Facial coarse features caused by Acromegaly.
#2: Facial coarse features caused by Acromegaly.
#3: Acromegalic enlargement of face and hand.
#3: Acromegalic enlargement of face and hand.
#4: Facial features of Acromegaly.
#4: Facial features of Acromegaly.
#5: Changes in body appearance associated with Acromegaly.
#5: Changes in body appearance associated with Acromegaly.
#6: Acromegalic enlargement of hand.
#6: Acromegalic enlargement of hand.
#7: The hand become too large due to excess growth hormone. Look the difference between two hands.
#7: The hand become too large due to excess growth hormone. Look the difference between two hands.
#8: Another photo demonstrating the huge enlargement of hands.
#8: Another photo demonstrating the huge enlargement of hands.

Changes associated with sleep:

  • Severe snoring.
  • Frequent sleep apnea, which is a short stoppage of breathing during sleep due to swelling of the tissues of the upper airway.

Changes in sexual activity:

  • Reduced sex drive.
  • Failure to achieve or maintain erection in men.
  • Irregularities of the menstrual cycle in women.


Changes in skin

  • Thickened and oily skin.
  • Excessive sweating and strong body odor.
  • Skin tags, which are small skin outgrowths.

Other symptoms:

  • Headache.
  • Back pain.
  • Joint pain and restricted joint movement.
  • Impairment of vision.


Causes

Acromegaly is caused by excess production of growth hormone inside your body. Growth hormone is one of the essential hormones secreted in our bodies. The pituitary gland, which is a bean-shaped structure in the base of the brain, is the part of our body that produces the growth hormone along with many other hormones.

Growth hormone stimulates the liver to produce another hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) which controls the growth and regeneration of our bones and other body tissues. The production of growth hormone from the pituitary gland is controlled by another part of your brain, called the Hypothalamus.


Acromegaly causes and results...
Acromegaly causes and results...

Acromegaly occurs when the growth hormone is secreted in a larger amount. In adults, this increase is usually caused by a tumor. In most cases, it is a tumor of the pituitary gland itself. While, in the other few cases, it is produced in other body tissues such as lungs, pancreas or adrenal gland.


Pituitary Tumors

Pituitary tumor or adenoma is the most common cause of Acromegaly in adults. Adenoma is a non-cancerous benign tumor that produces excess amount of pituitary hormones.

In addition, the increased size of the tumor may apply pressure on the surrounding structures and tissues resulting in the symptoms associated with Acromegaly such as headache and impaired vision.


Non-pituitary Tumors

In few cases, tumors of other body tissues may produce that excess growth hormone. Non-cancerous benign tumors of the lung, pancreas or the adrenal glands may produce the growth hormone itself, or another hormone, called growth-hormone releasing hormone (GH-RH). It is the hormone that stimulates the pituitary gland to produce more growth hormone.


Complications

Acromegaly, if left without treatment or diagnosed late, may progress into serious complications and health problems. These complications include:

  1. Hypertension or high blood pressure.
  2. Cardiomyopathy due to increased size of the heart,.
  3. Arthritis due to inflammation of joints.
  4. Diabetes.
  5. Precancerous colon polyps (outgrowths).
  6. Sleep apnea which is a frequent brief stoppage of breathing during sleeping.
  7. Loss of vision
  8. Spinal cord compression due to overgrowth of the spinal vertebrae.
  9. Uterine fibroids, which are a benign tumor of the uterus.
  10. Hypopituitarism, a condition of reduced hormonal output of other hormones of the pituitary gland.
  11. Carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition characterized by tingling or pain in your fingers caused by compression over your wrist nerves by the growing wrist tissues.


Diagnosis

Your doctor will discuss with you your medical history and the signs and symptoms associated with your condition. Then, he/she will conduct complete physical examination. If your doctor suspects Acromegaly, other investigations may be required that include:


1. Blood tests:

When you have Acromegaly, your blood level of Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) is usually elevated in response to the elevated level of growth hormone.


2. Glucose-suppressed Growth hormone level:

Your doctor may also recommend measuring your blood level of growth hormone. During this test, your blood level of growth hormone is measured, and then you are provided a preparation of sugar (glucose) to drink. Again, your growth hormone level is measured at certain times after that. The blood level of growth hormone normally decreases after glucose intake. But in case of Acromegaly, your growth hormone level will remain high.


3. Imaging:

After laboratory diagnosis of Acromegaly by the increased levels of IGF-1 and growth hormone, your doctor may recommend imaging tests to determine the size and the site of your tumor. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or CT (Computerized Tomography) of your brain can detect pituitary tumors. In cases of non-pituitary tumors, your doctor may order another blood tests or imaging tests of your chest or abdomen.


Treatment

Acromegaly causes irreversible changes in the different body tissues. Therefore, it should be treated as soon as possible to prevent the serious complications that may be associated with it. The treatment of Acromegaly includes three options that include surgery, medications and radiation.

For more information about the different treatment options for Acromegaly, you can refer to Acromegaly: Medical, surgical and Radiological Treatments.


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)