When someone has too much human growth hormone, or GH, which is produced by the pituitary gland, the most frequent outcome is a disorder called acromegaly.
It’s debilitating, painful, and disfiguring–and it’s a diagnosis that’s sometimes missed by the medical community. In a letter published by the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, the writer described a 78-year-old woman who had craniofacial abnormalities that had been developing for 15 years.
The letter pointed to the fact that early diagnosis and medical intervention can positively affect patient outcomes. In its early stages, the features of acromegaly are barely discernible and symptoms are often misdiagnosed as other diseases or conditions. In the case of the elderly woman mentioned earlier, doctors told her that her facial changes were part of aging. As it turns out, her symptoms were caused by a tumor on her pituitary gland, that showed up on an MRI. Prior to that, she had not been diagnosed with acromegaly. This is one of the many reasons patients have to be proactive about their health and keep pressing for answers.
Other symptoms of acromegaly include achy joints, sleep apnea, skin tags, headaches, and impaired vision. These are not all the symptoms, so if you are unsure about your health, be sure to bring it up with your healthcare team. You can also read more about common symptoms here.