Hypopituitarism : Symptoms and Causes

Hypopituitarism is a rare disorder of pituitary gland in which it either fails to produce one or more of its hormones or doesn't produce enough of them.

Updated: September 29, 2019

Hypopituitarism is a rare disorder of pituitary gland in which it either fails to produce one or more of its hormones or doesn't produce enough of them. The pituitary gland is a small bean-shaped gland located at the base of your brain, behind your nose and between your ears. It releases eight hormones that influence nearly every part of your body.
Your body function depends on each of these hormones in several ways. These functions could be stimulating bone growth, prompting your thyroid gland to release hormones that control your metabolism, blood pressure and reproduction.
The different hormones that effects function of your body include:

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH):

This hormone triggers cortisol production and the chemical reaction that makes your body produce adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Antidiuretic hormone (ADH):

It controls your blood pressure and conserves the fluids in your body.

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH):

It regulates the production of hormones in the thyroid that control your metabolism and many other activities in your body.

Growth hormone (GH):

This hormone is necessary for the growth of children as well as it maintains body structure and metabolism in adults.

Luteinizing hormone (LH):

It is responsible for fertility, puberty, and menstruation in women.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH):

It stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles in women and sperm production in men.

Luteinizing hormone (LH):

This hormone is responsible for fertility, puberty, and menstruation in women.

Oxytocin:

This is important in childbirth and lactation. It may also play a large role in human behavior.

Prolactin:

It has over 300 uses in the body.
When your pituitary gland does not release enough of one or more of these hormones, you will have hypopituitarism. Your symptoms can be controlled by particular medication, but you will need these medications for the rest of your life to treat hypopituitarism.

Symptoms of Hypopituitarism:

Signs and symptoms of hypopituitarism vary, depending on which pituitary hormones are deficient or which hormones your pituitary gland is not producing enough of. For example it might cause problems with sexual function, menstruation, and fertility if it doesn't produce enough follicle-stimulating hormone or luteinizing hormone.
So the symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Sensitivity to cold or difficulty staying warm
  • Decreased appetite
  • Facial puffiness
  • Anemia
  • Infertility
  • Hot flashes, irregular or no periods, loss of pubic hair, and inability to produce milk for breast-feeding in women
  • Decreased facial or body hair in men
  • Short stature in children

All of these symptoms can occur suddenly, but more often they develop gradually. They are sometimes subtle and may be overlooked for months or even years.

Causes of Hypopituitarism:

The most common cause of pituitary gland to stop producing enough of one or more of its hormones is trauma which include either a brain surgery, a brain infection, or a head injury.
Certain tumors can also affect the function of this gland. These include:

  • brain tumors
  • pituitary gland tumors
  • hypothalamus tumors

As a pituitary tumor increases in size, it can compress and damage pituitary tissue, interfering with hormone production. A tumor can also compress the optic nerves, causing visual disturbances.
The hypothalamus produces hormones of its own that directly affect the activity of the pituitary. The presence of tumor in hypothalamus, which is a portion of the brain situated just above the pituitary, also can cause hypopituitarism.
Other possible causes of hypopituitarism include:

  • radiation treatments
  • Sarcoidosis which is a chronic lung disease
  • tuberculosis
  • stroke
  • Sheehan syndrome or blood loss during childbirth
  • lymphocytic hypophysitis which is an autoimmune disease where inflammation of the pituitary gland happens
  • histiocytosis X which is a rare autoimmune disorder where immune cells attack the organs
  • hemochromatosis which is a hereditary disease with by too much iron in the body
  • traumatic brain injury in newborns, infants, and children
  • genetic mutations resulting in impaired pituitary hormone production

The cause of hypopituitarism is unknown sometimes.


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