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An overactive pituitary gland is an excess of pituitary gland hormones. Its most common cause is pituitary tumors (usually adenomas), which secrete or release pituitary hormones in too large amounts, leading to the development of many diseases, including acromegaly, gigantism or Cushing's disease. How do you recognize the symptoms of an overactive pituitary gland? What is the treatment?

An overactive pituitary glandindicates an excess of pituitary gland hormones. These hormones stimulate other endocrine glands such as the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, and gonads (ovaries, testes) to produce and secrete hormones necessary for the proper functioning of the body. They also affect the work of the kidneys. In the case of an overactive pituitary gland, the functioning of these organs is disturbed.

Overactivity of the pituitary gland - causes

The cause of the hyperfunction of the pituitary gland is a hormonally active tumor, most often an adenoma, which secretes or excessively releases thyroid hormones:

  • prolactinoma - the most commonly diagnosed tumors are prolactin-releasing tumors, a hormone that stimulates the mammary glands to secrete milk. They are most often diagnosed in women between the ages of 20 and 40

The most commonly diagnosed pituitary tumors are prolactin releasing tumors.

  • somatotropinoma - another frequently diagnosed tumor of the pituitary gland is somatotropinoma, i.e. a growth hormone secreting tumor
  • corticotropin tumor - a tumor that produces corticotropin (ACTH), a hormone that stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol (corticotropin tumor)
  • thyrotropin tumor - a tumor releasing TSH (thyrotropin hormone), i.e. a hormone that stimulates the thyroid to secrete hormones - triiodotrinine and thyroxine (thyrotropin tumor)
  • Gonadotropin tumors - release lutropin (LH) and follitropin (FSH), which stimulate ovulation in women and the synthesis of sex hormones in both sexes

Overactivity of the pituitary gland - symptoms

  • prolactin-releasing tumors - menstrual disorders and galactorrhoea in women as well as loss of libido and potency disorders in men
  • growth hormone-secreting tumor - leads to the development of acromegaly or gigantism. Includingin the first case, there are, inter alia, enlarged hands, craniofacial, thickening of facial features, headaches, bones and joints. Gigantism, on the other hand, produces symptoms such as e.g. delayed puberty, thickening of the features, protruding jaw, large hands and feet with thick toes, irregular periods, milk secretion from the breasts

Pituitary tumors that may not show any symptoms are gonadotrophin tumors.

  • corticotropin tumor - leads to the development of Cushing's disease, the characteristic symptoms of which are obesity with accumulation of fat on the body and neck, pink stretch marks on the skin, poured face with swollen eyelids, bright red blush on the cheeks
  • thyrotropin tumor - is the cause of secondary hyperthyroidism, the symptoms of which include weight loss, hypersensitivity to heat and excessive sweating, irritability, nervousness, palpitations, very fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, hand tremor
  • gonadotropin tumors - usually inactive

Overactive pituitary gland - research

Blood tests are performed to check pituitary hormone levels, as well as imaging studies (MRI or CT scan of the brain) to confirm or rule out the presence of a pituitary tumor.

Overactive pituitary gland - treatment

In the case of tumors that release prolactin, the patient is administered drugs aimed at suppressing the growth of the tumor. If they don't help, surgery is required. In other cases, surgical removal of the pituitary gland is necessary.

A gonadotrophin tumor is usually hormonally inactive.

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