What is Hypopituitarism?
Hypopituitarism is when your pituitary gland produces fewer hormones than your body needs. Your pituitary gland, located at the base of your brain, is referred to as the “master gland.” It controls other important glands such as your adrenal gland and thyroid gland.
Pituitary disorders are also called pituitary gland disorders. Hypopituitarism is one of two types of pituitary disorders. The other type is hyperpituitarism, an over production of pituitary hormones.
You will typically experience hypopituitarism symptoms associated with the underproduction of specific hormones. Deficiency in one hormone can impact deficiency in another. The main hormones affected by hypopituitarism include adrenocorticotropic, anti-diuretic, thyroid-stimulating, prolactin, luteinizing, and follicle-stimulating.
Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH):
- Stomach pain
- Low blood pressure
- Regular infections
- Sustained infections
Anti-diuretic hormone (ADH):
- Severe dehydration
- Electrolyte deficiency
- Electrolyte surplus
- Extreme increase in urination
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH):
- Dry skin
- Sensitivity to cold
- Weight increase
Prolactin reminds the body to make breast milk. Women with prolactin deficiencies may experience difficultly producing breast milk.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
Men and women may exhibit these symptoms:
- Reduced sex drive
- Delayed puberty
- Vision issues
Woman may experience these symptoms:
- Pubic hair loss
- Irregular menstruation
- No menstruation
- Hot flashes
- Loss of ability to make breast milk
- Decrease in estrogen
Men may experience these symptoms:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced facial hair
- Reduced body hair
- Mood swings
The most common cause of hypopituitarism is a pituitary tumor. When tumors grow, they sometimes harm the pituitary gland.
Other potential causes include:
- Brain surgery
- Brain infections
- Radiation treatment
- Head injuries
- Pituitary gland inflammation
- Certain cancer drugs
- Excessive corticosteroids
- Infiltrative diseases
Infiltrative diseases either cause internal scarring or result in excess deposits of substances, such as excess iron deposits in the liver.
You may also develop the condition if you experience bleeding in your brain, bleeding in your pituitary gland, loss of blood during delivery, or deficient blood flow to your brain or pituitary gland.
A diagnosis for hypopituitarism involves a blood tests, vision tests, stimulation tests, and brain imaging.
Hypopituitarism diagnosis tests:
- Blood tests — these tests examine the hormone levels in your body.
- Vision tests — these tests identify how pituitary tumors might affect your vision.
- Stimulation tests — these tests combine with medications to measure hormone levels in your body. Stimulation tests are also called dynamic testing.
- Brain imaging — computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) take images of your brain.
There are several available treatment options for hypopituitarism. Your doctor may prescribe hormone replacement medication, radiation therapy, or surgery.
Common pituitary disorder treatment:
- Hormone Replacement — certain medications can help regulate healthy production of pituitary hormones.
- Radiation therapy — radiation destroys tumors, including pituitary tumors.
- Surgery — surgeons might remove pituitary gland tumors.
Ongoing monitoring is often a part of hypopituitarism treatment. Your doctor will check your hormone levels and, if needed, measure the growth of any existing tumors.
If you or someone you love experiences any of the symptoms of hypopituitarism, an endocrinologist at Baptist Health may be able to help.
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