Acromegaly - Introduction
Acromegaly is a medical condition which occurs due to increased production of the growth hormone. The growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland. Increased production of the growth hormone may be induced by hormonally active tumor of the pituitary gland. This disorder is treatable if diagnosed on time. If not, increased level of the growth hormone leads to irreversible structural and functional changes on certain organs and organ systems. Acromagaly affects the both genders and it may also occur at any age. However, the middle-aged adults are the most affected group of people. There is no acromegaly in children, they may only suffer from gigantism.
Symptoms and Signs of Acromegaly
Acromegaly progresses rather slowly and it may be sometimes hard to diagnose. Once the patients notice changes in their appearance the disease has progressed a lot.
The symptoms of people suffering from acromeglay may be related to the very tumor or they are related to the effects caused by overproduction of the growth hormone.
Changes in physical appearance are typical for people suffering from acromegaly. They have enlarged facial features, their jaw bone is large and protruded and the tongue enlarged. Hands and feet of these people are swollen and enlarged. Their skin is coarse or oily, sebaceous glands are enlarged and there may be skin tags. Bone overgrowth is also symptomatic for people suffering from acromegaly. These patients may additionally complain about unexplained weight gain and excessive hair growth on the body. And finally, the joints may be swollen.
Apart from the previously mentioned symptoms, people suffering from acromegaly can additionally have muscle fatigue, blurred vision and husky voice. Perspiration may be excessive and their body odor strong. Enlargement of bones also results in enlarged sinuses. Headaches and joint pain can occur as well. The growth hormone also affects organs such as kidneys causing kidney enlargement. And finally, women suffering from acromegaly have problems with menstrual cycles while men suffer from impotence.
In advanced stages of acromegaly the symptoms are rather severe and cause numerous complications. Heart conditions and hypertension are only two diseases caused by prolonged production of the growth hormone. Diabetes mellitus is another possible complication of acromegaly. People with acromegaly are prone to depression, sleep apnea and respiratory problems. They may also develop colon polyps and carpal tunnel syndrome. Effects of the growth hormone onto the bones results in arthritis. And finally, people suffering from acromegaly may develop goiter.
Treatment for Acromegaly
Acromegaly is treated successfully only if the disease is diagnosed on time. The tumor which is the cause of growth hormone overproduction is surgically removed. If the tumor is huge the goal of initial treatment is shrinkage of the tumor and then surgical removal. In some cases tumors are treated by radiation therapy.