The pituitary is often referred to as the "master gland" and with good reason. According to Pituitary.org, this pea-sized gland is in charge of producing the hormones that keep the human body in balance. One of the most common abnormalities that can affect pituitary gland function is a tumor. The Mayo Clinic reports that "most pituitary tumors are noncancerous, nonspreading growths." However, a tumor can cause disease and dysfunction of the pituitary.
General Tumor Symptoms
Pituitary tumors can adversely affect the production of hormones necessary for healthy body function. Signs and symptoms of the extraneous pressure caused by a pituitary tumor include nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, seizures, loss of body hair, watery discharge from the nose, loss of vision and unexplained fluctuations in weight.
Adrenocorticotropic Tumor Symptoms
An adrenocorticotropic pituitary tumor causes an excessive production of the hormone cortisol. Cushing's syndrome can develop from too much cortisol. Symptoms of Cushing's syndrome include a hump appearing on the upper back, weight gain concentrated in the midsection or upper back, high blood pressure, roundness in the face, weakness, thin skin and bruising.
Growth Hormone Tumors
Some pituitary tumors can cause a rapid increase in the production of naturally occurring growth hormones that the body cannot assimilate. This condition is called acromegaly; symptoms of this condition include high blood pressure, heart problems, excessive sweating, a change in facial features and enlarged feet or hands. Children with acromegaly may experience accelerated growth throughout the entire body.
Prolactin Producing Tumors
In women, an excess of prolactin, or prolactinoma, can decrease the production of estrogen. Signs and symptoms of prolactinoma in women are irregular menstrual periods and a discharge from the nipples. In men, this condition causes a decrease in testosterone and enlarged breasts, infertility, erectile dysfunction and decreased libido.
Thyroid Stimulating Tumors
Hyperthyroidism, or an overproduction of thyroxine, can occur when a pituitary tumor overstimulates the thyroid gland. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include sudden unexplained weight loss, irregular or fast heartbeat, a sense of feeling on edge or irritability.
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