Hypopituitarism – Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and …

Posted: July 3, 2015 at 5:48 pm

Hypopituitarism is a general term that refers to any under-performance of the pituitary gland. This is a clinical definition used by endocrinologists and is interpreted to mean that one or more functions of the pituitary are deficient. The term may refer to both anterior and posterior pituitary gland failure. Below is a list of the hormones secreted by the pituitary and their functions:

In cases of hypopituitarism, single or multiple hormone deficiencies are present. The deficiencies affect the target organ activity or secretion (the thyroid; the adrenals; or the gonads, which includes both female and male sexual development and function). Causes of hypopituitarism are tumors or lesions of various origins, congenital defects, trauma, radiation, surgery, encephalitis, hemochromatosis, and stroke. In children, the condition results in slowed growth and development and is known as dwarfism. The cause may also be unknown.

Deficient pituitary gland function can result from damage to either the pituitary or the area just above the pituitary, namely the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus contains releasing and inhibitory hormones that control the pituitary. Since these hormones are necessary for normal pituitary function, damage to the hypothalamus can also result in deficient pituitary gland function. Injury to the pituitary can occur from a variety of insults, including damage from an enlarging pituitary tumor, irradiation of the pituitary gland, limited blood supply (as experienced in a stroke), trauma or abnormal iron storage (hemochromatosis). There appears to be a predictable loss of hormonal function with increasing damage. The progression from most vulnerable to least vulnerable is usually as follows:

Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:

Men develop testicular suppression with decreased libido, impotence, decreased ejaculate volume, loss of body and facial hair, weakness, fatigue and often anemia. On testing, blood levels of testosterone are low and should be replaced. In the United States, testosterone may be given as a bi-weekly intramuscular injection, in a patch form or as a gel or creme preparation. In some countries, oral preparations of testosterone are available.

Thyroid Stimulation Hormone (TSH) Deficiency Deficiency of thyroid hormone causes a syndrome consisting of decreased energy, increased need to sleep, intolerance of cold (inability to stay warm), dry skin, constipation, muscle aching and decreased mental functions. This variety of symptoms is very uncomfortable and is often the symptom complex that drives patients with pituitary disease to seek medical attention. Replacement therapy consists of a either T4 (thyroxine) and/or T3 (triiodothyronine). The correct dose is determined through experimentation and blood tests.

Adrenal Hormone Deficiency Deficiency of ACTH resulting in cortisol deficiency is the most dangerous and life-threatening of the hormonal deficiency syndromes. With gradual onset of deficiency over days or weeks, symptoms are often vague and may include weight loss, fatigue, weakness, depression, apathy, nausea, vomiting, anorexia and hyperpigmentation. As the deficiency becomes more serious or has a more rapid onset (Addison crisis), symptoms of confusion, stupor, psychosis, abnormal electrolytes (low serum sodium, elevated serum potassium), and vascular collapse (low blood pressure and shock) can occur. Treatment consists of cortisol administration or another similar steroid (like prednisone). For patients with acute adrenal insufficiency, rapid intravenous administration of high dose steroids is essential to reverse the crisis.

Posterior Pituitary Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH) Deficiency Replacement of antidiuretic hormone resolves the symptoms of increased thirst and urination seen in diabetes insipidus. Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) is currently replaced by administration of a synthetic type of ADH either by subcutaneous injection, intranasal spray, or by tablet, usually once or twice a day.

Endocrine substitution therapy is indicated for replacement of hormones for the affected organs. These include corticosteroids, thyroid hormone, sex hormones (testosterone for men and estrogen for women), and growth hormone. Drugs are available to treat associated infertility in men and women.

Growth hormone is only available in injectable form and is usually given 6-7 times per week. Homeopathic GH or IGF has been proven to provide benefits in blinded trials.

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Hypopituitarism - Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and ...

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