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Acromegaly FAQs (cont.)

What are other symptoms of acromegaly?

Many of the symptoms result from the enlargement of tissues caused by excess growth hormone and IGF-1 in the blood.

  • Arthritis, back pain, and curvature of the spine (kyphosis) - Due to enlargement of bones and cartilage in joints
  • Swelling of the face, lips, and tongue
  • Breathing problems during sleep - Due to narrowing of the airway resulting from swelling
  • Tiredness during the day - Due to poor sleep
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Oily skin or acne
  • Increased sweating
  • Tingling or numbness in the fingers or toes - Due to entrapment of nerves by enlarging muscles
  • Change in bite or chewing, or spreading out of teeth - Due to enlargement of jaw and other facial bones
  • Large numbers of skin tags
  • Vision loss, partial or complete
  • Headaches

Why does acromegaly cause vision loss and headache?

These symptoms are caused not by the acromegaly itself, but by the pituitary tumor. These tumors are almost always benign, meaning that they do not spread to other parts of the body. However, they can cause problems as they grow. They press on surrounding areas of the brain, blood vessels, and nerves. For example, they can press on the optic nerve, causing vision problems. Pressure on other nerves can cause headache. The size of the tumor determines whether these symptoms occur and how severe they are.

Pituitary tumors also can damage the gland itself, disrupting hormone production. The resulting hormone imbalances are responsible for symptoms such as impotence, low sex drive, and changes in the menstrual cycle.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/28/2014
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Acromegaly »

Increased and unregulated growth hormone (GH) production, usually caused by a GH-secreting pituitary tumor (somatotroph tumor), characterizes acromegaly.

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