Hypopituitarism, also called an underactive pituitary gland, is a condition that affects the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland--usually resulting in a partial or complete loss of functioning of that lobe. The resulting symptoms depend on which hormones are no longer being produced by the gland. Because the pituitary gland affects the other endocrine organs, effects of hypopituitarism may be gradual or sudden and dramatic.
Symptoms vary depending on what hormones are insufficiently produced by the pituitary gland. The following are common symptoms associated with reduced production of certain hormones:
|Insufficient gonadotropins production
(luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone)
|In premenopausal women, this leads to absent menstrual cycles, infertility, vaginal dryness, and loss of some female characteristics. In men, this deficiency leads to impotence, shriveling of testes, decreased sperm production, infertility, and loss of some male characteristics.|
|Insufficient growth hormone production||This usually produces no symptoms in adults. In children, this deficiency can lead to stunted growth and dwarfism.|
|Insufficient thyroid-stimulating hormone production||This usually leads to an underactive thyroid and may cause confusion, cold intolerance, weight gain, constipation, and dry skin.|
|Insufficient corticotrophic production||This rare deficiency leads to an underactive adrenal gland, resulting in low blood pressure, a low blood sugar level, fatigue, and a low tolerance for stress.|
|Insufficient prolactin production||This rare deficiency may cause an inability to produce breast milk after childbirth in some women.|
The symptoms of hypopituitarism may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
Causes of hypopituitarism can directly affect the pituitary gland, or indirectly affect the glad through changes in the hypothalamus.
|Causes of primary hypopituitarism (directly affecting pituitary gland)||Causes of secondary hypopituitarism (affecting the hypothalamus)|
Symptoms of several underactive glands may help a doctor diagnose hypopituitarism. In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, diagnostic procedures for hypopituitarism may include:
Treatment of hypopituitarism depends on its cause. The goal of treatment is to restore the pituitary gland to normal function, producing normal levels of hormones. Specific treatment for hypopituitarism will be determined by your doctor based on:
Treatment may include replacement hormone therapy, surgical tumor removal, and/or radiation therapy.
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