Acromegaly is one of the rare condition that can affect the human body. The body is the most complicated design. It works well when everything is balanced. The imbalance in any hormone can cause havoc. So, it may result in complication leading to stress and discomfort. Acromegaly occurs due to the production of excessive growth hormone in your body. Intrigued? Let’s see the details of the condition.
What Is Acromegaly?
Acromegaly is caused due to the hormonal fluctuations developed when the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland produces growth hormone (GH). The gland present in the brain is responsible for the normal growth of the human body. So, an excessive amount of growth hormone can create issues in the body. The main reason noted for the excessive production is because of the presence of pituitary gland tumor. Therefore, the pituitary adenoma (tumor) can lead to decreased muscle strength, low energy levels, reduced bone health, etc.
The significant physical anomaly of Acromegaly is the unusual appearance. So, it results in deformity of the face, hands, and legs. The physical changes are visible in people affected after a long time. But, Acromegaly is a severe condition. It results in medical complications leading to reduced life expectancy. Your life expectancy gets reduced by ten years. So, premature death is a possibility for people affected with Acromegaly.
Why Do You Need To Take Acromegaly Seriously?
Every disease or disorder can cause distress in the body. But, you need to take seriously Acromegaly condition. The hormonal disorder caused due to abnormal functioning of pituitary glands results is severe. It affects people during their adulthood. Therefore, middle-aged adults can experience the severity of the condition. If left untreated, then it results in life-threatening condition.
An excess amount of anything is harmful to the body. Therefore, too much growth hormone is dangerous to the body. Therefore, it can cause gigantism in children. Kids with Acromegaly can see exaggerated bone growth. It leads to an abnormal height increase in affected people. The main issue of Acromegaly is that it is difficult to detect it early. The physical changes occur gradually over a long time period. So, not taking the necessary steps at the right time can make the issue more severe.
Symptoms Of Acromegaly
So, how do you realize you have the problem? Several symptoms can help you identify the issue with ease. You need to check out for the following symptoms to detect the presence of Acromegaly:
Enlarged Feet And Hands
The most common sign of Acromegaly is the bloated appearance of the feet and hands. Therefore, a ring that you normally wear will no longer fit you. You may ignore it as the increase in weight. But, Acromegaly can cause the issue. Similarly, you can feel an increase in your shoe size. So, look out for the signs.
Shape Of Face
Your face shape can change due to Acromegaly. Though the change is gradual, you can see the distinct changes. So, enlarged nose shape, protruding brow and lower jaw, wider space between the teeth, and thickened lips are common among people suffering from acromegaly.
You can see the changes by comparing your old photos. It will let you know the slow changes occurring in your physical appearance. Therefore, you can detect the signs of Acromegaly to get the necessary treatment. If you do not treat it, then it can become a life-threatening complication. Therefore, taking the necessary steps can reduce the risk and complications.
You need to look out for the following symptoms that signify the disease. Therefore, you need to monitor the physical changes that can happen gradually.
- Swollen hands
- Large Feet
- Prominent Brow
- A large tongue and jaw
- Gaps between teeth
- Oily skin with a rough texture
- Skin tags
- Heavy sweating
- Persistent headaches
- Deeper voice
- Lack of sensation or tingling in the feet and hands
- Impaired vision
- Enlargement of organs like liver, lungs, heart, and kidneys
The overproduction of growth hormone leads to acromegaly. The root cause of the issue is directly associated with the occurrence of a tumor.
The most common cause of acromegaly is the non-cancerous tumor in the pituitary gland. It is known as the pituitary adenoma. The benign tumor in your pituitary gland can produce high levels of growth hormone. So, it leads to abnormal growth resulting in facial deformities.
Cause Of Pituitary Adenoma
It is not genetically inherited from your parents. Therefore, you may not get the problem due to hereditary reasons. It appears due to the genetic changes in the gland. The modification in a single cell can lead to the formation of the tumor. So, the replication of the cells results in adenoma (tumor). It may not spread to other parts of the body. But, non-malignant tumors may result in severe complication due to the location and the size.
Complications Of Pituitary Adenoma
A small percentage of the population suffers from small pituitary adenomas. But, many do not suffer from any symptoms. Only large tumors can cause severe health complications. So, you can suffer from the following issues:
- The increasing size of the tumor can put severe pressure on the surrounding brain tissue. Your skull is a closed area. Therefore, the tumor growth crowds the tissue surrounding the tumor. It leads to vision problems. You can also suffer from headaches causing severe distress.
- The tumor location plays an important part in influencing the other hormone production. Subsequently, the hormone balance in the body gets affected due to the presence of the tumor.
- The impact of the tumor differs in men and women depending on the hormone affected. In women, it can cause menstrual problems. So, it affects the menstrual cycle. While men can experience impotence due to issues in the sex hormone.
Apart from the pituitary adenoma, the tumor can form in other organs. It is rare, but the appearance of the tumor can cause overproduction of growth hormone (GH). Therefore, it can affect body parts like:
- Adrenal Glands
Subsequently, the tumor can produce excess growth hormone or trigger the gland to produce excess hormone. Confused? The hypothalamic tumor can secrete hormones (growth hormone releasing hormone), which in turn produces growth hormone. So, it can result in acromegaly. Similarly, small cell lung cancer or neuroendocrine tumors like carcinoid tumors can result in acromegaly.
Diagnosis Of Acromegaly
Diagnosing acromegaly takes a lot of time. It is due to the fact that the symptoms appear gradually over time. Hence, it takes a long duration for a proper diagnosis. The swelling of feet and hands is one of the signs of acromegaly. The growing of hands and feet is also considered as a symptom of the issue. But, certain tests can also confirm the disease.
The Insulin Growth Factor-1 Test can reveal the high levels of growth hormones. The hormone produces by the liver promotes growth. So, people affected by acromegaly can have high hormone levels. Taking the test will shed light on the presence of acromegaly.
The Oral Glucose Tolerance Test offers you an accurate reading of the growth hormone levels. If you are taking the test, then you need to fast overnight. You have to drink a concentrated glucose solution before giving the blood sample for testing. For a normal person, the glucose solution can lower the growth hormone levels. But, for a person suffering from acromegaly, the hormone levels remains higher. Therefore, the tests can help people identify acromegaly in their body with the tests.
The magnetic resonance imaging of the brain uses strong radio waves as well as magnetic fields to generate detailed images. So, it aids in determining the size and location of the tumor.
Treatment will depend on the location of the tumor, the person’s age, and their medical history. So, the ideal treatment plan aims to reduce excess hormone production It also relieves any pressure caused by the tumor, regulate hormone levels, and improve symptoms.
Many times invasive surgery is suggested to overcome acromegaly. It removes the tumor from the pituitary gland. So, it reduces the production of growth hormone. It also relieves the pressure suffered by the surrounding tissue. Transsphenoidal surgery opted by your doctor can remove the tumor. It involves using an endoscope to access the pituitary gland. After inserting it through the nasal cavity, it reaches the sphenoid bone.
Once the tumor is removed, your growth hormone levels may drop. But, you need additional therapies to bring the balance back into the body. Therefore, you need to continue seeking medical assistance to restore normalcy in your body.
Your doctor may suggest radiation therapy to control acromegaly. It is either used alone or as a part of the combined approach to overcome the issue. So, in most cases, the radiation therapy can remove the remaining tumor cells. It is effective to eliminate the remaining tumor after surgery or other approaches. It is used along with other medications to decrease the growth hormone levels. Therefore, your doctor can suggest two different types of radiation therapies:
Convention Radiation Therapy
It is the therapy that is given to the affected people at least five days a week. The duration of the treatment can go up to six weeks. In most cases, patients need to continue the treatment for ten years. So, it will aid in controlling the growth hormone levels to make it return to normal.
The highly-focused radiation is directed at the tumor. So, the intense beam can reduce the growth hormone. Within a short duration of time, you can get the desired effects. It is the ideal option for acromegaly as it causes minimum damage to the surrounding tissue. Therefore, with fewer sessions, you can get the balance back in the body.
You need to consult your medical professional to get good medications to treat acromegaly. It is an option you can consider in case of a risky surgery. Sometimes, the location of the tumor can make it impossible to perform the surgery successfully. Therefore, the medications can control the problem with ease. The following medication proves effective to control the growth of the tumor:
- Dopamine Agonists
- Growth Hormone Receptor Antagonists (GHRAs)
- Somatostatin Analogs (SSA)
Subsequently, the medications can prevent the rapid growth. It prevents the secretion of the growth hormone or controls it to stop the tumor growth. In most cases, your doctor may suggest a combination of treatments is the ideal option to overcome the physical issue effectively.
Complications Due To Acromegaly
Many people do not take acromegaly seriously. But, the result of ignorance is very severe complications. Therefore, not taking necessary steps can result in the following serious conditions:
- Heart disease like cardiomyopathy
- Spinal cord compression
- Spinal Cord Compression
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- High Blood Pressure
- Kidney Diseases
- Sleep Apnea
- Uterine Fibroids
Prevention Of Acromegaly
Whenever you hear about a disease, you try to find a preventive measure. So, it helps to avoid the distress in the body. Unfortunately, acromegaly has no proven preventive measures. The underlying cause of the pituitary tumor is not known to the medical world. Therefore, it is difficult to find the possible preventive measure to keep it at bay.
So, what is the solution? The early detection of acromegaly can help you overcome the problem without dealing with severe complications.
Apart from seeking medical assistance, you need to have an open mind to overcome the issue. Acromegaly can pose new health challenges. You can face unknown situations. So, it can result in depression and anxiety. You can face several questions concerning about your future. Therefore, you need to opt the following steps:
Talk With Family And Friends
You need to open up about your concerns and grievances to your family and friends. Sharing the concerns can make it more reassuring and comforting. With good assistance, you can deal with the problem with ease.
Seek Professional Help
Talking to a professional can help you ease your mind. It will also assist you in handling your concerns in a better manner. You can also gather more information about the rare disease. Therefore, you can get in touch with people suffering from the same disease. Sharing the concerns will offer you comfort and peace.
Get relevant information from the internet or get books to educate yourself about acromegaly. It will shed light on what to expect. So, you can overcome the problem associated with it in a better manner.
No disease can conquer your body if you have a strong mind. So, get the mental strength by acquiring more information about acromegaly. Seek the help of a specialist once you diagnose the issue. Early detection and cure is the best way to beat the disease. Therefore, take swift action to prevent further complications.