Acromegaly, commonly known as gigantism is a disorder of the growth hormone. It occurs when your pituitary gland produces excess growth hormone during adulthood. The pituitary is a gland situated at the base of your brain that produces a number of hormones, including growth hormone. Even Though acromegaly can affect any age group, the middle aged adults are more likely to get affected by the condition.
Gigantism is caused due to the overproduction of growth hormone by the pituitary gland. The overproduction mostly occurs due to tumours in the pituitary gland or less commonly tumours in other parts such as the lungs or pancreas
The physical changes associated with acromegaly usually occur gradually which leaves it unrecognized in the early stages. Some of the symptoms of gigantism or acromegaly are:
- Increase in the size of hands and feet
- Changes or enlargement in facial features and shape
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle weakness and fatigue
- Thickened skin
- Changes in voice due to enlargement of vocal chords
- Irregular menstrual cycle in women
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Loss of libido or sex drive
- Joint pains and reduced joint mobility
- Headaches, vision problems
- Enlarged tongue
- Severe snoring
- Skin tags or small growths on the skin
- Review of signs and symptoms
- Physical examination
- Medical history
- Blood tests
- Growth hormone suppression tests
- MRI and other imaging procedures
Acromegaly cannot be prevented. The condition can be prevented from worsening by early identification and treatment.
The treatment objectives are to reduce the production of growth hormone and reduce the effects of tumour on the pituitary gland and other surrounding tissues. The treatment procedure include:
- Medications to lower the production or block the action of growth hormone.
- Surgery is required to remove the tumours.
- Radiation therapy may be done in which high energy beams are used to destroy the tumour cells.
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