The intricate dance of chemicals within the Pituitary gland orchestrates various physiological changes in the human body. Situated in the brain, this endocrine gland, when releasing chemicals in moderate amounts, ensures proper human growth. However, an abnormal surge in growth-inducing chemicals can lead to an overgrowth condition with profound effects on bones and soft tissues, resulting in numerous abnormalities.
The key player in this growth-inducing chemical symphony is the Growth Hormone or Somatotropin. Excessive release of this hormone from the pituitary gland can disrupt nutrient utilization in the body. In children, this disruption causes excessive bone growth, termed Gigantism. In adults, whose bone formation has ceased, it manifests as a disorder known as Acromegaly.
Description: Acromegaly is a rare condition, affecting approximately one person in 20,000. Both males and females can experience this abnormality, with middle-aged individuals often facing challenges in early identification until symptoms become more pronounced.
Cause of the Abnormality: The Pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, releases a myriad of chemicals responsible for regulating various bodily functions. The Hypothalamus, also at the brain’s base, controls pituitary secretions, releasing hormones that either induce or halt pituitary gland hormone release. In Acromegaly, an abnormal resistance to halting the release of Growth Hormone leads to elevated levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) in the body, disrupting nutrient balance.
Conditions: Individuals with Acromegaly experience abnormal growth in their hands and feet, resulting in increased thickness. Facial changes, termed “Coarsening,” involve enlarging the nose and jaws, widening of teeth, and an enlarged tongue. Additionally, a deepening of the voice and the development of snoring are common.
- Profuse sweating
- Oily skin
- Increased body hair
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased calcium in urine
- Higher risk of gallstones
- Swelling of thyroid glands
- Frequent headaches
Important Cause: In approximately 90% of cases, Acromegaly is associated with the presence of a non-cancerous tumor known as Pituitary Adenoma in the pituitary gland. This tumor plays a pivotal role in triggering Acromegaly.
How Does Pituitary Adenoma Cause Acromegaly: The tumor’s growth exerts pressure on adjacent brain structures, causing headaches and impacting vision. Pituitary tissues may be damaged, leading to changes in hormone production. This disruption results in the excessive release of Growth Hormones, contributing to Acromegaly. Additionally, Pituitary Adenoma can diminish sexual drive in both genders and bring about alterations in the menstrual cycle in females.
Untreated Acromegaly can lead to premature death, affecting vital organs such as the lungs, heart, and brain. Moreover, it poses a heightened risk of colorectal cancer. Early detection and intervention are crucial for managing and mitigating the impact of this rare but serious condition.