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Acromegaly
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Acromegaly

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DIABETES AND ENDOCRINE SYSTEM

Endocrine System

Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder that results when the pituitary gland produces excess growth hormone (GH). It most commonly affects middle-aged adults and can result in serious illness and premature death. Once recognized, acromegaly is treatable in most patients, but because of its slow and often insidious onset, it frequently is not diagnosed correctly.

The name acromegaly comes from the Greek words for "extremities" and "enlargement" and reflects one of its most common symptoms, the abnormal growth of the hands and feet. Soft tissue swelling of the hands and feet is often an early feature, with patients noticing a change in ring or shoe size. Gradually, bony changes alter the patient's facial features: the brow and lower jaw protrude, the nasal bone enlarges, and spacing of the teeth increases.

Because Acromegaly is so uncommon, and the physical changes occur so gradually, doctors often don't recognize it immediately. If not treated promptly, this condition can lead to serious illness and even become life-threatening.

In children who are still growing, too much growth hormone can cause a condition called gigantism. In this form of Acromegaly, children have exaggerated bone growth and an abnormal increase in height.

It occurs equally in both sexes, and it's most often diagnosed in a person's 20s or 30s.

Definition   

Acromegaly is a chronic metabolic disorder caused by the presence of too much growth hormone. It results in gradual enlargement of body tissues including the bones of the face, jaw, hands, feet, and skull.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors   

Acromegaly occurs in about 6 of every 100,000 adults. It is caused by abnormal production of growth hormone after normal growth of the skeleton and other organs is complete. Excessive production of growth hormone in children causes gigantism rather than acromegaly.

The cause of the increased hormone secretion is usually a benign tumor of the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland, which is located just below the brain, controls the production and release of several different hormones including growth hormone.

There are no known risk factors for acromegaly other than a prior history of a pituitary tumor.

 

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