Acromegaly

The Master's mistake

What is Acromegaly?

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The human body is a complex machine and therefore needs many operators to work properly. Our systems work together to maintain our body. The endocrine system is one of the most important systems in our body and malfunctions, in this system could be very fatal for humans. This report talks about one of the many malfunctions that could happen in this system - Acromegaly.


Causes

Acromegaly is a condition caused by an abnormal production of growth hormones after the skeleton and other organs have finished growing. In children, excessive amount of growth hormone production causes Gigantism instead of Acromegaly. The secretion of growth hormones is controlled by the Pituitary gland and in Acromegaly, most of the times, the problem is a tumor of the pituitary gland which affects the growth hormone production too.

Symptoms

There are some signs and symptoms which could tell us that, it might be Acromegaly that we are looking at. Some of the symptoms are as follows:


  • Body odor

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Decreased muscle strength (weakness)

  • Easily tired

  • Excessive height (when excess growth hormone production begins in childhood)

  • Excessive sweating

  • Headache

  • Hoarseness

  • Joint pain

  • Large bones of the face

  • Large feet

  • Large hands

  • Large glands in the skin (sebaceous glands)

  • Large jaw (prognathism) and tongue

  • Limited joint movement

  • Sleep apnea

  • Swelling of the bony areas around a joint

  • Thickening of the skin, skin tags

  • Widely spaced teeth

  • Widened fingers or toes due to too much skin growth, with swelling, redness, and pain

Other symptoms that may occur with this disease :

  • Excess hair growth in females

  • Weight gain (unintentional)

Signs and tests

There are some signs and tests too which could help us know if the condition is Acromegaly. Some of such signs and tests are as follows:


  • High growth hormone level

  • High insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) level

  • Spine x-ray shows abnormal bone growth

  • Pituitary MRI may show a pituitary tumor

  • Echocardiogram may show an enlarged heart, leaky mitral valve, or leaky aortic valve

This disease may also change the results of the following tests:

  • Fasting plasma glucose

  • Glucose tolerance test

Treatment

After we know what it is Acromegaly we need to treat it. Here some ways this would be possible -

Surgery: A Pituitary tumor can be removed through surgery and would normally fix the problem.

Radiation: People who don't respond to the surgery are put under radiation of the pituitary gland. Still, this treatment reduces growth hormone levels very slowly.

Medication: These medications can be taken before the surgery, after it, or at times when the surgery is not working. Octreotide (Sandostatin) or bromocriptine (Parlodel) may control growth hormone release in some people. Pegvisomant (Somavert) directly blocks the effects of growth hormone, and has been shown to improve symptoms of Acromegaly.

Now that we know what Acromegaly is what it can do to us we should spread awareness and help people with this problem.