In this Article In this Article In this Article Hypopituitary Overview
Hypopituitarism is a condition in which the pituitary gland (a small gland at the base of the brain) does not produce one or more of its hormones or else not enough of them. This condition may occur because of disease in the pituitary or hypothalamus (a part of the brain that contains hormones that control the pituitary gland). When there is low or no production of all the pituitary hormones, the condition is called panhypopituitarism. This condition may affect either children or adults.
The pituitary gland sends signals to other glands, for example the thyroid gland, to produce hormones, such as thyroid hormone. The hormones produced by the pituitary gland and other glands have a significant impact on bodily functions, such as growth, reproduction, blood pressure, and metabolism. When one or more of these hormones is not produced properly, the bodys normal functions can be affected. Some of the problems with hormones, such as with cortisol or thyroid hormone, may require prompt treatment. Others may not be life threatening.
The pituitary gland produces several hormones. Some important hormones include:
In hypopituitarism, one or more of these pituitary hormones is missing. The lack of hormone results in a loss of function of the gland or organ that it controls.
A loss of function of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus results in low or absent hormones. Tumors can cause damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus and can therefore result in a loss of function. Damage to the pituitary gland can also be caused by radiation, surgery, infections such as meningitis, or various other conditions. In some cases, the cause is unknown.
Some people may have no symptoms or a gradual onset of symptoms. In other people, the symptoms may be sudden and dramatic. The symptoms depend on the cause, how fast they come on, and the hormone that is involved.
Call the doctor or health care practitioner if any of the above symptoms develop.
The doctor or health care practitioner may perform blood tests to determine which hormone level is low and to rule out other causes. The following tests may be performed:
An MRI or CT scan of the pituitary gland may be obtained to determine if a tumor is present.
In children, X-rays of the hands may be taken to determine if bones are growing normally.
Medical treatment consists of hormone replacement therapy and treatment of the underlying cause.
Drugs used to treat hypopituitarism replace the deficient hormone.
If a tumor is involved, surgery may be performed, depending on its type and location.
Checkups with the doctor or health care practitioner are important. The doctor may need to adjust the dose of hormone replacement therapy.
If hormone replacement therapy is adequate, the prognosis is good. Complications are often related to the underlying disease.
Visit the Pituitary Network Association web site.
hypopituitarism, panhypopituitarism, pituitary gland, hypothalamus, pituitary insufficiency, underactive pituitary gland, thyroid hormone deficiency, growth hormone deficiency, FSH, follicle-stimulating hormone, LH, luteinizing hormone, adrenocorticotropin hormone, ACTH, prolactin, ADH, antidiuretic hormone, low hormones
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Hypopituitary: Pituitary Gland Disorder Causes & Treatments
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