Acromegaly : Overgrowth condition in humans

Introduction :

Any Chemical released from the Pituitary gland induces physical activities or changes in the body. Pituitary gland is an endocrine gland present in the brain.

The release of chemical from the gland in a moderate quantity leads to correct growth of the human body. But if the release of the chemicals that induces the growth increases, then size of the bones increases and also results in the increase of the growth of soft tissues. This results to many abnormalities in the human body.

The hormone or chemical that induces growth is called as Growth Hormone or Somatotropin. Excess of release of this hormone from the pituitary gland will cause an alteration in the use of nutrients in the body. In children as the bones are still in the growing condition, these changes will cause more and more growth of the bones and this is called as Gigantism.

And in adults, after the bone formation has stopped, this change can cause an abnormality which is called as Acromegaly.

Description :

Acromegaly is a rare condition caused in a very few people i.e. one person per 20,000 people can experience this abnormality. This is common in males and females. The identification is not easy for middle aged people till extreme conditions are observed.

Cause of the Abnormality :

Pituitary gland is present at the base of the brain which release a number of chemicals that are responsible for many functional activities of the systems and organs of the body. The hormones are released and travel throughout the body and are mainly involved in the growth and reproductive activities.

A Gland called Hypothalamus which is present on the base of the brain regulates the secretion of the pituitary. It induces or stops the release of hormones from the pituitary by releasing hormones and sending to the pituitary gland. Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone(GHRH) is released from the hypothalamus which induces and also stops pituitary gland to release hormones.

In the liver, growth hormone produces IGF-1 called “Insulin-like Growth Factor-1” which is responsible for the growth throughout the body. In the condition of Acromegaly, the pituitary refuses to stop the Growth hormone which leads to increase in the levels of IGF-1 andthe body now loses the capacity to produce and utilise the nutrients.

Conditions :

Induvidual’s hands and feets grows more than normal, and they become thicker.

The conditions on the face also change i.e. the nose, jaws become large and the teeth are spread more wider. Tongue also becomes larger. These changes on the face are called as “Coarsening”. the voice of that person becomes Deep and develop Snoring.

Symptoms :

-Profused sweating

-Skin becomes Oily

-Body hair increases

-Blood Pressure increases

-Calcium increases in the urine

-Risk of Gallstones increases

-Swelling of thyroid glands

-Patients often suffer from headache.

Important cause : In about 90% of the patients, it is seen that a non-cancerous tumuor occurs in the pituitary gland, it is called as Pituitary Adenoma. And it is a major factor that causes Acromegaly.

How Does Pituitary Adenoma cause Acromegaly :

The tumuor increases in size and presses the adjacent structures present in the brain which cause headache, and also effects the vision. This may damage the pituitary tissues and also brings changes in the production of the hormones and due to this, the Growth Hormones are released in excess. And so this results in Acromegaly.

Also due to this, the sexual drive in the males and females decreases and brings changes in menstrual cycle in the females.

The condition if not treated, can cause an early death of the person as this would effect lungs, heart, brain, and also cause Cancer in the large intestine.

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