Acromegaly

Symptoms

What are the signs and symptoms of acromegaly?

The most common symptom of acromegaly is the abnormal growth and enlargement of the hands and feet. Initially, patients will often notice a swelling of the hands and feet resulting in a change in ring size or shoe size. After a prolonged period of time, the jaw can also change so that the teeth become more widely spaced. The brow (area above eyes) and lower jaw will protrude and the nasal bone will get bigger. This results in a more coarse appearance to one's face.

The bone growth and changes can cause arthritis. The excess tissue can trap and pinch nerves resulting in numbness and pain of the extremities. At times, the organs (i.e. the heart) can also enlarge.

Depending on how the tumor is growing in the pituitary gland, we can also see a variety of other, less specific symptoms. Per the National Institute of Health, these include:

  • joint aches
  • thick, coarse, oily skin
  • skin tags
  • enlarged lips, nose, and tongue
  • deepening of the voice due to enlarged sinuses and vocal cords
  • sleep apnea-breaks in breathing during sleep due to obstruction of the airway
  • excessive sweating and skin odor
  • fatigue and weakness
  • headaches
  • vision problems
  • abnormalities of the menstrual cycle (period) and sometimes breast discharge in women
  • erectile dysfunction in men
  • decreased libido

"Acromegaly" National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. April 2012. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/endocrine/acromegaly/Pages/fact-sheet.aspx#common

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