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Hypopituitarism: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About hypopituitarism

Hypopituitarism is an endocrinal disorder in which there is diminished secretion of various hormones secreted by the pituitary gland.

The pituitary gland is located just below the brain and is responsible for producing various hormones namely the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), oxytocin and prolactin.

Hypopituitarism: Incidence, age and sex

Hypopituitarism is a rare endocrinal disorder which may affect an individual of any age group. There seems to be no gender predilection.

Signs and symptoms of hypopituitarism: Diagnosis

Hypopituitarism leads to several symptoms which result from diminished levels of various hormones in the blood. The features include loss of appetite, headache, fatigue, muscle weakness, joint stiffness, excessive thirst and increased urination. Men may experience erectile dysfunction and loss of hair on body including face. Women may exhibit decreased libido, infertility, irregular periods and impaired breast feeding. Hypopituitarism in a child usually presents as short stature and delayed development of sexual characteristics.

The diagnosis is established by finding decreased levels of pituitary hormones in the blood. Imaging tests of the brain may be needed to evaluate the cause of the pituitary disorder.

Causes and prevention of hypopituitarism

Hypopituitarism may result from any kind of damage to the brain which subsequently affects pituitary gland. Such causes include injury to the brain, stroke, infections like meningitis, exposure to radiation and bleeding in the brain. Tumour of the pituitary gland may also result in the impairment of its function. Rare causes of hypopituitarism include tuberculosis of the brain, sarcoidosis and haemachromatosis.

Hypopituitarism: Complications

Hypopituitarism is a complex disorder which may result in various problems. Visual problems may occur if this condition arises from the pituitary tumour which enlarges to press upon the optic nerve. Moreover, hypopituitarism also adversely affects an individual’s sexual life, leading to intense distress and anxiety.

Hypopituitarism: Treatment

The treatment of hypopituitarism depends upon the underlying cause. If it is due to a pituitary tumour, then management includes surgical removal of the tumour with or without radiation. Sometimes, when the underlying cause cannot be treated successfully, then lifelong replacement of hormones is the only modality of treatment. Hormones like cortisol and thyroid hormone (controlled by ACTH and TSH, respectively) may be given. It is essential to regularly monitor the blood levels of the hormones and subsequently manage them.