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    Acromegaly

    • Overview

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      Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder when the pituitary gland produces excessive growth hormone during adulthood. This overproduction of growth hormone increases bone size, which in childhood results in taller stature, known as gigantism. However, in the majority, there is no change in height, but the bones of the hands, feet, and face enlarge, called acromegaly.

      As acromegaly is rare and the physical changes happen gradually over many years, recognising the condition may take a while. High growth hormone levels can affect other body parts if left untreated, leading to severe health problems, sometimes even life-threatening. However, with the proper treatment, the risk of complications can be reduced, and symptoms can be significantly improved, including the enlargement of facial features.

    • Symptoms

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      An indication that someone may have acromegaly is when their hands and feet become larger. You may also notice that rings that once fit no longer do and that your shoe size has increased over time. Acromegaly can also cause changes in the shape of your face, including a more prominent lower jaw and brow bone, a giant nose, thicker lips, and broader gaps between teeth. Since acromegaly develops gradually, it may take years to notice early signs. People sometimes only become aware of physical changes when comparing old photographs to new ones.

      The symptoms of acromegaly can differ from person to person and may include:
      Enlarged hands and feet.
      Enlarged facial features include the bones, lips, nose, and tongue.
      Thickened, oily, and coarse skin.
      Excessive sweating and body odour.
      Skin tags.
      Fatigue, joint or muscle weakness, and pain.
      Limited joint mobility.
      A more profound and hoarse voice because of enlarged vocal cords and sinuses.
      Severe snoring due to upper airway obstruction.
      Vision problems.
      Headaches can be persistent or severe.
      Irregular menstrual cycles in women.
      Erectile dysfunction in men.
      Loss of interest in sex.

    • When to see a doctor

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      If you have any signs or symptoms of acromegaly, you must contact your doctor for an exam. Acromegaly typically develops gradually, so even your family members may not notice the physical changes at first. However, early diagnosis is crucial to receive proper care and prevent serious health complications associated with this disorder. Don’t delay seeking medical attention if you suspect you have acromegaly.

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    • Causes

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      Acromegaly is a condition that occurs when the pituitary gland produces excessive growth hormone (GH) over an extended period.

      The pituitary gland is a small gland located at the base of your brain, behind the bridge of your nose. It produces several hormones, including GH, crucial in regulating physical growth.

      When the pituitary gland releases GH into your bloodstream, it prompts your liver to produce insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), also known as insulin-like growth factor-I. IGF-1 is responsible for the growth of your bones and other tissues. However, excessive GH can cause an overproduction of IGF-1, leading to signs, symptoms, and complications of acromegaly.

      The most common reason for excessive GH production in adults is a tumour.
      Pituitary tumours. Acromegaly is caused by a pituitary gland tumour that produces excessive growth hormone, resulting in various symptoms. Some symptoms, such as headaches and vision problems, are caused by the tumour’s pressure on nearby brain tissues.
      Nonpituitary tumours. Tumours in other body parts can cause acromegaly by producing or releasing growth hormone, leading to increased GH production by the pituitary gland.

    • Risk factors

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    • Prevention

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    • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

    Content Details

    Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

    Last updated on: 07/08/2023