Acromegaly can be defined as a rare hormonal condition which arises due to the over secretion of the growth hormone (GH) by the pituitary gland during adulthood and the growing years. The abundance of GH causes excess growth in the bones and soft tissues of the body, including those of your hands, feet and face.

Although Acromegaly can affect anyone at any age, it is usually noticed in middle-aged people. Children diagnosed with this condition can often grow to abnormal heights and may have an elaborate bone structure which can ultimately lead to a condition called Gigantism. Since, this condition is quite rare and changes in the physical structures happen gradually with time, it is more arduous to diagnose acromegaly in the initial stages. Also Read: Precocious Puberty: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment



This rare disorder usually happens due to the overproduction of the growth hormone by the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a small gland located at the base of the brain and the growth hormone produced by it plays a quintessential role in managing the physical growth of a person. When GH is secreted in the blood stream, it triggers the liver to secrete the hormone called insulin Iike growth factor (i.e. IGF-I), which mainly functions to stimulate the growth of bones and other tissues. An overproduction of GH in turn causes an over secretion of IGF-I which ultimately leads to acromegaly and gigantism. But sometimes, in case of adults, acromegaly can also arise due to tumours, some of which can be non-cancerous benign tumours of the pituitary gland, while others can be tumours in other parts of the body including lungs or pancreas.


The common symptoms of acromegaly can be difficult to detect since they develop gradually over a course of time. These include:

  • Enlarged hands and feet
  • Enlarged facial features
  • Coarse, oily, thickened skin
  • Prominent brow
  • Excessive sweating and body odor
  • Small outgrowths of skin tissue (skin tags)
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Impaired vision
  • Headaches
  • Enlarged tongue
  • Enlarged organs, such as the heart
  • Deepened, husky voice due to enlarged vocal cords and sinuses
  • Menstrual cycle irregularities in women
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Severe snoring due to obstruction of the upper airway
  • Insomnia
  • Severe fatigue
  • Pain and limited joint mobility
  • Swollen painful joints
  • Weight gain


If the condition is not treated on time, it can ultimately lead to more severe problems including:

Diagnosis And Treatment

On noticing the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, do consult a doctor right away to get diagnosed and treated at the earliest. The doctor usually does a thorough physical examination, acknowledges the past medical history followed by a number of diagnostics including:

  • Growth hormone suppression test
  • GH and IGF-I measurement
  • Imaging techniques like MRI-scan, CT-scan and X-ray


The available treatment options usually focus on lowering the production of GH, as well as reducing the negative effects of the tumor on the pituitary gland and surrounding tissues. This includes:

  • Surgery
  • Medications like somatostatin analogs, dopamine agonists and GH receptor antagonists
  • Radiation therapy