Signs and Symptoms of Pituitary Disease


The pituitary is often referred to as the "master gland" and with good reason. According to, 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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