Gigantism

How does it happen?

Gigantism is a very rare disorder that occurs during childhood, in which there is extreme bone, muscle and organ growth. Gigantism is caused by overproduction of growth hormone (GH) that occurs before a child’s bone growth plates have closed. This results in excessive growth and abnormally growth of height.


People with gigantism generally have very large hands, fingers, toes and heads. They also have changes in characteristics like: coarse skin, excessive sweat production, and a very deep voice. They may have enlarged internal organs, such as the heart, kidneys, brain and tongue. This can cause complications(side effects), including high blood pressure, severe headaches, sleep apnea(difficulty in breathing during sleep), diabetes, diminished vision, and gradualy heart failure.The overproduction of GH that causes gigantism is the result of the pituitary tumors that are not harmful. These press on the pituitary gland, causing it to produce too much GH.

Causes

Gigantism is caused by an overproduction of growth hormone (GH) that occurs in childhood before the bone growth plates have closed. Diseases, disorders and conditions that can cause GH overproduction leading to gigantism include:


  • Non- harmful tumors of the pituitary gland, which press the pituitary gland and it secretes excessive GH. This is the most common cause of gigantism.
  • Carney complex (rare gene mutation that causes a high risk of certain tumors including pituitary adenoma)
  • McCune-Albright syndrome (syndrome caused by a gene mutation)
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (inherited disorder that causes tumors to form in endocrine glands and makes them hyperactive)
  • Neurofibromatosis (genetic disorder causing tumor growth)


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Symptoms

Gigantism is extreme growth of bones and muscle tissues. Children with gigantism are very tall according to their age and may also have the following conditions:


  • Enlarged hands, fingers, toes, head or tongue
  • Excessive sweat production
  • Headaches
  • Irregular menstrual periods in teens
  • Late puberty
  • Production of breast milk (galactorrhea) in teens
  • Unusually large jaw, prominent forehead, and thick facial features
  • Vision distortion, such as double vision and problems with peripheral vision
  • Weakness and pricking or itching in the arms and legs due to enlarging tissues and compressing nerves.


Preventions

Treatment of gigantism involves a couple of techniques to reduce or regulate the pituitary gland’s release of growth hormone (GH). Below are mentioned the treatments to regulate the production of the GH in Pituitary Gland.

Medical treatments of gigantism

Medications may be used to reduce GH release, block the effects of GH, or prevent growth in stature. They include:

Dopamine agonists, which reduce GH release

GH antagonist, which blocks the effects of GH

Sex hormone therapy, such as estrogen and testosterone, which may inhibit the growth of long bones

Somatostatin analogs, which reduce GH release

Other treatments of gigantism

A surgery to remove pituitay tumour, which is the treatent of choice for well defined pituitary. You can help reduce your risk by following the treatment plan your healthcare professional has planned for you. You can also opt for radiation therapy wich is the most succesful cure to gigantism, but you can have severe complications after the therapy. Complications of gigatism includes:


  • Delayed puberty
  • Difficulty functioning in everyday life due to large size and unusual features
  • Delayed puberty
  • Diminished vision or total vision loss
  • Embarrasment , isolation, difficulties with realtionships and other social problems
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Severe chronic head aches
  • Sleep apnea- difficulties in breathing while sleeping .



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