acromegaly because of the link between too
much GH and high levels of IGF-1 in the
Another way to diagnose acromegaly is
with an oral glucose tolerance test. In this
test, GH levels in the blood are measured
after the patient drinks sugar water.
Normally, the sugar water will make
the pituitary gland stop producing GH
and blood levels drop. However, a
GH-producing pituitary tumor will not
stop making GH, so the levels of GH in
the blood will not change.
What are the signs and
symptoms of acromegaly?
A patient with acromegaly usually has
large hands and feet, thick lips, coarse facial
features, a jutting forehead and jaw, and
widely spaced teeth. Often patients sweat a
Other signs and symptoms fall into three
categories, depending on what causes them.
Some symptoms are caused by high GH
levels, some by hypopituitarism (pituitary
hormone deficiency caused by damage to
the pituitary by the tumor), and some by
tumor volume effects (when the tumor is
large enough to compress surrounding brain
How is acromegaly treated?
The main goal of treatment is to lower
GH and IGF-1 levels to normal. Treatment
HORMONES & YOU
What is acromegaly?
Acromegaly is a rare but serious condi-
tion caused by too much growth hormone
(GH) in the blood. GH is released into the
bloodstream by the pituitary gland, located
at the base of the brain. The blood carries
GH to other parts of the body where it has
specific effects. In children, GH stimulates
growth and development. In adults, GH
affects energy levels, muscle strength, bone
health, and a sense of well-being.
Too much GH in children is called
gigantism and is extremely rare. Acromegaly
in adults occurs mainly in middle-aged men
and women. Each year, about three new
cases of acromegaly occur for every million
What causes acromegaly?
Acromegaly is usually caused by a
non-cancerous tumor in the pituitary gland
called a pituitary adenoma. The tumor
produces too much GH and raises the level
of GH in the blood. Too much GH also
raises the leve