Pituitary gland problems arise due to too much or too little secretion of one of the hormones in the body. This article provides information about the various disorders, symptoms, and treatment options available for these conditions.
The pituitary gland is a small endocrine gland that is situated near the base of the skull, in a cavity known as sella turcica. It is a very important endocrine gland as it regulates the functioning of other endocrine glands in the body. If the functioning of this gland is affected, it may lead to various problems in the entire body. Given below is a list of various disorders, their growth, and their treatment.
Acromegaly is a condition where the pituitary gland produces excess of the growth hormone even after the bones have stopped growing in length, that is, after the closure of the epiphyseal plate at puberty. There are many conditions that can lead to a spurt in the growth hormone production. This may occur due to pituitary adenoma, which is a tumor of this gland. This condition is most commonly seen in adults. It can result in severe disfigurement due to an increase in the hormone level despite the closure of epiphyseal plates. The disease is hard to diagnose in its initial stages due to its slow progress. The symptoms include soft tissue swelling, brow protrusion, ocular distension, increase in the protrusion of the lower jaw, etc. Other symptoms are hypertrichosis, hyperpigmentation, and hyperhidrosis.
Diabetes insipidus is characterized by excessive thirst and excretion of large amounts of very diluted urine. Any change in the amount of fluid intake does not affect the amount of urine produced. The urine output is regulated by ADH (anti diuretic hormone), which is produced by the hypothalamus. However, when there is decreased production of ADH, then there is excess of urination. This causes excessive loss of water from the body. This leads to a vicious cycle of excess thirst leading to excess consumption of water and eventual excess urination.
Growth Hormone Deficiency
A deficiency in the human growth hormone in the body is produced due to decreased production of the growth hormone. This can have varied effects on the body depending on the age at which this condition occurs. If it occurs in childhood, then stunted growth may be seen in the chilldren. If it occurs in newborns, then it may lead to hypoglycemia. This deficiency is rare in adults, but may lead to lean body mass and poor bone density. Poor memory, asocial behavior, and depression may also be seen in some cases.
Pituitary adenomas are tumors that occur in the pituitary gland, which account for 15% of intracranial neoplasms. There are many different types of adenomas, like corticotropic adenoma, somatotropic
adenoma, gonadotrophic adenoma, thyrotrophic adenoma, and null cell adenoma. In such cases, the symptoms will depend on the region of pituitary gland affected, like corticotropic adenoma will lead to Cushing’s syndrome, while somatotropic adenoma will lead to acromegaly. The biggest risk that can occur with a pituitary adenoma is a pituitary apoplexy, that is infarction due to hemorrhage of the gland.
Hypopituitarism is the decreased secretion of one or more of the eight hormones that are produced by the pituitary gland. If there is decreased production of all the hormones, then the condition is known as panhypopituitarism. It is one of the most severe disorders in women. This condition is relatively rare and even more difficult to diagnose in people who are affected by a traumatic brain injury. In most cases, the production of three or more hormones are affected, of which follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone are most common. This leads to decreased secretion of sex hormones, which in turn causes delayed development of sex organs and secondary sexual characteristics in the body.
These are very serious conditions of the pituitary gland that can lead to fatal changes in the body, and hence, needs to be diagnosed and treated on a priority basis.