What is acromegaly?

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Acromegaly: Overview

Acromegaly (say "ack-roh-MEH-guh-lee") is a condition in which the body makes too much growth hormone. This causes abnormal growth of bones and tissues. It is noticed mostly in the hands and feet. It can also affect internal organs, such as the heart. The condition also can cause changes in the face. For example, the brow and lower jaw can grow and stick out, and the nasal bone can get bigger. In most cases, these changes happen slowly over many years.

People with the condition may have a greater risk of certain diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis. And they may have other problems such as sleep apnea and headaches. This condition can be painful. This is because the bones may keep growing after they have reached their adult size.

Acromegaly is often caused by a tumor of the pituitary gland, which is where growth hormone is made. But the tumor isn't cancer. It can be treated with medicine, surgery, radiation treatment, or some combination of these. Rarely, a tumor in a different part of the body, such as in the pancreas gland, can cause the pituitary gland to make too much growth hormone. This also can lead to acromegaly. Treatment may stop some abnormal growth, but bones don't go back to normal after the treatment.

Acromegaly

Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder in which the pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone. This disorder causes abnormal enlargement of bones and tissues, noticeably in the hands and feet, which occurs gradually over several years.

Enlarged bones in the nose and mouth may cause a large tongue and widely spaced teeth and may lead to sleep apnea. Bone and cartilage growth may lead to arthritis. People with acromegaly can also develop diabetes, high blood pressure, and other problems.

The excess production of growth hormone usually is caused by a tumor of the pituitary gland. Acromegaly is usually treated with medicine, surgery, or radiation treatment to the tumor.

How can you care for acromegaly?

  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • This condition can change how you look. If you have trouble dealing with these changes, talk to your doctor to find a support group. Talking to other people who are going through the same thing can be helpful.

Acromegaly: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have problems with your vision.
  • You have severe headaches.
  • You get confused or have trouble thinking.
  • You are vomiting or have nausea.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.