Acromegaly

Acromegaly Symptoms

A balanced hormone plays a substantial role in maintaining good health. There are various ailments related to hormonal fluctuations.  Though acromegaly is not a common hormonal illness around the world, there is no harm to be aware of acromegaly causes.  It is also essential to detect acromegaly symptoms for timely remedies. Let us begin with acromegaly definition.

 

What is Acromegaly?

Acromegaly begins with an unusual growth of hands, feet, and face.  You would not have difficulty in identifying acromegaly symptoms.  Though it may occur in older children, acromegaly is a condition, which occurs mostly in adults when their growth plates have closed.   Acromegaly is caused by excessive secretion of growth hormones, known as pituitary glands.

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Image of the pituitary gland at the base of the brain

The Pituitary gland is a tiny, pea-sized gland located at the edge of the bony structure of the brain.  It occupies the place near your optic nerves.  Since it produces vital hormones for the body, it is also referred to as ‘Master Gland’. 


Acromegaly Symptoms 

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Image of deformed bones of the hand as a result of acromegaly

Acromegaly symptoms are visible and can be easily recognized.  When you realize that your ring does not fit in your finger because the shape of your hand has enlarged, you may want to consult a doctor as this could be the first of acromegaly symptoms.  Another acromegaly symptom could be visible when you begin to feel that you need a bigger shoe size.  Take a good look at yourself in the mirror, if you see that your jawline is protruding more than before.  A combination of all these acromegaly symptoms may be dropping hints for progressive acromegaly disease.  Acromegaly symptoms may differ from person to person.  However, if you can relate to nine out of ten symptoms, you may be suffering from acromegaly.

  • Over-size of jaws, nose, hands, legs, and so forth

  • Increased skin tags or outgrowth of skin

  • Fatigue and weakness in the muscles

  • Sinuses

  • Enlarged internal organs,

  • Larger tongue,

  • Pain in joints

  • Impaired vision

  • Rough or thickened skin,

  • Headache

  • Excess perspiration and body odor

  • Hair growth on the face in female

  • Snoring while sleeping

  • Change in voice

  • Irregular menstrual cycle

  • Dysfunction of erection in men

 

Acromegaly Causes

Now that you know what is acromegaly let us find out acromegaly causes.  Acromegaly is caused by surplus production of growth hormones by pituitary glands.  The excess secretion of growth hormones into your bloodstream activates the liver to manufacture insulin-like growth factors.  Though the growth plates in adults pause, these excessive growth factors trigger further enlargement of soft tissues and bones.  Hence, the resultant is giant-like growth in adults.   There are two reasons behind the acromegaly disorder.

  • Pituitary Tumours - Acromegaly is caused by a tumour of pituitary glands, which is noncancerous.  However, removal of this tumour would help in curing people with acromegaly disorder.  Since the tumours are located at the base of the brain, it puts pressure on the optic nerves, which leads to impaired vision and headaches.

  • Non-Pituitary Tumours – In other cases, acromegaly is caused by tumours in other internal organs, which includes lungs, pancreas, etc.  The tumours in other parts of the body trigger enlargement of internal organs.  Due to the overgrowth of the internal organs, you may feel discomfort.  With enlarged lungs, you may feel breathless. Overgrowth of the heart may lead to cardiovascular disease.  People with acromegaly disorder should also be watchful of pre-cancerous growths on the lining of the colon.  Early detection can prevent complications.

 

Fun Facts About Acromegaly

  1. Do you love reading books written by Ronald Dahl?   Acromegaly could remind you of the character of a giant from the children’s novel ‘The Big Friendly Giant’ written by Ronald Dahl.

  2. If you think, you will gain the right height if you suffer from acromegaly, then you are wrong.  Though children may grow tall, adults will not.  On the contrary, they will suffer from bone deformity. 

  3. The movie, ‘Honey, I blew up the kids!’ could remind you of gigantism, but not acromegaly.

  4. Complicated acromegaly could make you blind.

  5. The mastermind behind acromegaly is the master gland, also known as pituitary glands.

  6. You will find only a handful of acromegaly patients around the world since it is a rare disease.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Can you use gigantism and acromegaly illness synonymously?

No.  Though related, gigantism and acromegaly are two different types of illness.  In both cases, a person suffers from the overgrowth problem, but the origin of the ailments is different.  Gigantism starts prior to the fusion of the growth plate.  However, acromegaly occurs when the growth plate halts.  Generally, gigantism occurs mostly in children, whereas acromegaly occurs in adults.  In gigantism, children show linear growth, whereas in acromegaly adults suffer from bone and skull deformity.    Children could reach an abnormal height between 7 to 9 feet in gigantism.  However, adults do not grow taller in acromegaly.  They remain the same height, but their hands, legs, and face show enlargement.  Children may face this ailment at the time of their puberty, whereas acromegaly generally takes place in adults between the age of 30 and 50 years old.

2. Is there any remedy for acromegaly?

Acromegaly can be diagnosed by several medical tests, such as blood tests, tests of oral glucose tolerance and insulin-like growth factor.  Furthermore, doctors conduct an MRI scan of the brain to verify the overgrowth of pituitary glands.  Though the treatment varies from patient to patient, an early diagnosis can assure cure from this ailment.   Minor acromegaly can be treated with the help of medicines to balance the production of growth hormones.  However, radiation therapy and surgery could bring relief to acromegaly patients.  Through the transsphenoidal operation, tumour cells are extracted from the body.  The procedure is successful in treating growth disorder.  Another option for treating acromegaly is radiation therapy where the rays destroy the tumour cells without going to the operation theatre.