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Acromegaly

Category: Illness or disabilities

Type

Involuntary

Introduction and description

 

Acromegaly is a Pituitary gland disease, typically due to the pituitary gland producing excess growth hormone (GH) after the growth plates have closed.

It affects about 6 per 100,000 people and is most commonly diagnosed in middle age. Males and females are affected equally frequently.

The first medical description of the disorder occurred in 1772 by Nicolas Saucerotte. The term is from Greek ἄκρον akron meaning "extremity" and μέγα mega meaning "large".

Below - the great Khali, a wrestler

Symptoms

The initial symptom is typically enlargement of the hands and feet. There may also be enlargement of the forehead, jaw, and nose. Other symptoms may include joint pain, thicker skin, deepening of the voice, headaches, and problems with vision. Complications of the disease may include type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure.

 

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is by measuring growth hormone after a person has drunk glucose or measuring insulin-like growth factor I in the blood. After diagnosis medical imaging of the pituitary is carried out to look for an adenoma. If excess growth hormone is produced during childhood the result is gigantism.

Causes

In more than 95% of people the excess production is due to a benign tumour, known as a pituitary adenoma. The condition is not inherited from a person's parents. Rarely acromegaly is due to tumours in other parts of the body.

But what caused the tumour?  A full description of causes of disease of this organ can be found by following this LINK, which takes you to the section on Pituitary gland disease and all the pathogens implicated in causing disease of this organ.

Treatment

Find the cause.

At the moment, surgery is usually the preferred treatment and is most effective when the tumour is smaller. But without knowing the cause, there is always the danger that the problem will reoccur.  A virus, for example, may be seeping across the blood brain barrier and attacking this organ, or worse perhaps the nasal sprays used to give some vaccines may be delivering viruses to the actual site of disease. 

Only by finding the cause can the disease be healed, as opposed to temporarily alleviated.