Know About Acromegaly

Acromegaly is syndrome, which occurs as a result of excess production and secretion of growth hormone from the pituitary gland after the epiphyseal plate closure at puberty (in simple words among adults after bone development has matured). If excess production and secretion of growth hormone occurs before epiphyseal plate closure, gigantism occurs. Acromegaly most commonly affects adults at around middle age. Affected adult suffers from severe disfigurement and serious complications which may cause death prematurely, if left untreated or unchecked. The disease slowly progressing and due to its slow progress and absence of any manifestations and symptoms, it may not be diagnosed at an early stage before body disfigurement has become noticeable. The most commonly involved area is face.

There are several medical conditions, which may lead to secretion and production excess growth hormone, the commonest cause is tumor of pituitary gland (growth hormone producing tumor), known as pituitary adenoma.

What are the symptoms of acromegaly?

The signs and symptoms of acromegaly are mainly due to high level of growth hormone and expansion of tumor (pituitary adenoma).

  • There is general thickening of the skin. Soft tissue swelling occurs, which results in enlargement of the hands, feet, nose, lips and ears.
  • Hands become typical, e.g. fingers and palm become enlarged, in compare to normal persons. There are reports of doctors warning strangers about the presence of acromegaly, due to typical appearance of hands.
  • Lower jaw protrudes with presence of enlargement of tongue known as macroglossia (enlarged tongue).
  • Brow protrusion is seen, sometimes along with ocular distension.
  • There is generalized expansion of skull at the fontanelle.
  • Soft tissue swelling affects the internal organs too. For example heart become enlarged with weakening of heart musculature, kidneys also enlarges.
  • Vocal cord enlargement occurs, which results in typical thick, deep voice and slowing of speech.
  • Other less common symptoms include hypertrichosis, hyper pigmentation and hyperhidrosis.

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