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Category Archives: Hypopituitarism
What is hypopituitarism?
Hypopituitarism (also called pituitary insufficiency) is a rare condition in which your pituitary gland doesnt make enough of certain hormones. Your body cant work properly when important glands, such as your thyroid gland and adrenal gland, dont get the hormones they need from your pituitary gland.
The pituitary gland is a pea-sized gland found at the base of your brain. It is called the master gland because it affects the action of many other important glands that produce their own hormones. The pituitary gland affects almost all parts of your body.
Hypopituitarism can develop very slowly, over several months or even over several years.
Hypopituitarism can be caused by
Sometimes, the cause is unknown.
Symptoms can include one or more of the following:
Your doctor will check your hormone levels with blood tests. You may have other tests, such as an MRI of your pituitary gland, to help find the cause of your hypopituitarism.
Treatment usually includes taking the hormones youre missing, sometimes for life. Your doctor also will teach you how to take extra cortisone (a hormone) when you are sick or under stress. If a tumor is causing your hypopituitarism, you might need surgery to remove it and/or possibly radiation treatment. If needed, you can take medicine for infertility.
You will need to get regular check-ups. Its wise to wear medical identification, such as a bracelet or pendant, which provides information about your condition in case of an emergency.
You can expect a normal life span, as long as you regularly take the medications recommended by your doctor.
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Hypopituitarism Symptoms and Treatment | Hormone Health ...
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Hypopituitarism is a condition in which the pituitary gland does not produce normal amounts of some or all of its hormones.
The pituitary gland is a small structure that is located just below the brain. It is attached by a stalk to the hypothalamus. This isthe area of the brain that controlsthe pituitary gland'sfunction.
The hormones released by the pituitary gland (and their functions) are:
In hypopituitarism, there is a lack of one or more pituitary hormones. Lack of a hormone leads to loss of function in the gland or organ the hormone controls. For example, lack of TSH leads to loss of normal function of the thyroid gland.
Hypopituitarism may be caused by:
Occasionally, hypopituitarism is due to uncommon immune system or metabolic diseases, such as:
Hypopituitarism is also a rare complication after pregnancy, a condition called Sheehan's syndrome.
Symptoms of hypopituitarism include any of the following:
Symptoms may develop slowly and may vary greatly, depending upon:
Other symptoms that may occur with this disease:
To diagnose hypopituitarism, there must be low hormone levels due to a problem with the pituitary gland. The diagnosis must also rule out diseases of the organ that is affected by this hormone.
Levels of a pituitary hormone may be high in the bloodstream if you have a pituitary tumor that is producing too much of that hormone. The tumor may crush other cells of the pituitary, leading to low levels of other hormones.
If hypopituitarism is caused by a tumor, you may need surgery to remove the tumor. Radiation therapy may also be needed.
You will need lifelong hormonemedicines to replace hormones that are no longer made by organs under the control of the pituitary gland. These may include:
Drugs are also available to treat related infertility in men and women.
Hypopituitarism is usually permanent. It requires lifelong treatment with one or more medicines. But you can expect a normal life span.
Side effects of medicines can develop.Stopping corticosteroid and thyroid supplementationcan be life-threatening.
Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of hypopituitarism.
In most cases, the disorder is not preventable. Awareness of risk may allow early diagnosis and treatment.
Melmed S, Kleinberg D, Ho K. Pituitary physiology and diagnostic evaluation. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 8.
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Home Frequently asked HYPOPITUITARY questions.and their answers
When not on any thyroid meds, you find yourself with a very low TSH lab (the TSH is a pituitary hormone), yet you have a low free T3, plus hypothyroid symptoms, you may have hypopituitarism.
Here are the most frequently asked questions concerning this condition, created by Chris, a hypopituitary patient who has worked with other hypopituitary patients for several years. Please note these are quick general answers so its recommended you do your own research to learn more. You can also join Chriss Hypopituitary Support Group on Yahoo. It is closed to posting, but you can join to access the great deal of information it contains, including over 500 links and 100 files.
1) What is hypopituitarism? 2) What are symptoms of hypopituitarism? 3) What causes hypopituitarism? 4) Is adrenal and/or thyroid treatment different if I am hypopituitary? 5) What labs will detect hypopituitarism? 6) If I cant afford all those labs, can you tell just from TSH? DHEA? 7) Can you detect hypopituitarism from saliva cortisol labs? 8 ) Im already on HC, can I test cortisol or ACTH levels? 9) Is there any test for hypopituitarism once Im already on HC? 10) If one pituitary hormone is low, does that mean all of them are? 11) My Dr or Insurance wont approve further tests what should I do? 12) Should I start treating the sex hormones right away? 13) Is hypopituitarism curable? 14) My doctor says my cortisol doubled during the ACTH stimulation test, so I am ok-is he right? 15) Could I have a pituitary tumor? Should I get an MRI? Is it gonna grow? Will I need an operation? 16) Are there shades of Gray on this? Does someone get sort-of hypo-pit, then then next guys labs even more so, then finally one sets off the buzzer and gets a definitive label of Hypo-Pit? 1) What is hypopituitarism? Hypopituitary is the pituitary gland functioning below where it needs to be, and one or more hormones can be involved. The pituitary is a pea sized gland located at the base of the brain and it runs the adrenals, thyroid, and sex hormones. It also produces growth hormone and stores oxytocin and vasopressin, both of which are made in the hypothalamus. If the pituitary doesnt put out enough TSH, thyroid hormone production can decrease. It the pituitary doesnt produce enough ACTH, cortisol (and DHEA) can decrease. 2) What are the symptoms of hypopituitarism? Because the pituitary may not be sending adequate levels of TSH and or ACTH, you could feel fatigue, weakness, have low blood pressure, feel colder than normal, have a decrease in your appetite, headaches, and depression. Symptoms of hypopit (concerning low TSH, low ACTH, low LH and FSH) are the same as if thyroid-adrenals-gonads are the cause. In most cases you cant tell by symptoms if you may be hypopituitary or not. If you arent getting enough ACTH, you could have symptoms of weight loss and nausea, plus the fatigue, low blood pressure, weakness, and depression. Because of a deficiency of TSH and LH, women could lose their periods, or have problems conceiving. Men could have a decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and loss of facial hair. If hypopituitary occurs in childhood, the result can be a short stature. Thirst and increased need to urinate can occur is you have an ADH deficiency. (Note: a large body of hypothyroid patients have a low normal TSH without hypopituitarism. Why? Because the man-made TSH lab is often slow to reveal the hypothyroid state. Those with hypopituitarism will often have a TSH at 0.8 and lower for women, and 1.8 and lower for men, with accompanying hypo symptoms. See #5 and 6 below.)
3) What causes hypopituitarism? A common cause of hypopituitarism is head injury. Even a seemingly mild bump to the head can damage the pituitary. A Pituitary tumor can also cause hypopituitary, though perhaps less than 3 percent have this as a cause. Sheehans syndrome is another cause, which is any type of blood loss, and where the pituitary at least partially dies from the lack of blood. Blood loss from childbirth, or an injury can result in Sheehans syndrome. Other causes can be radiation, antibody attack, and environmental. In most cases, it can not be known for sure what the cause is.
4) Is adrenal and/or thyroid treatment different if I am hypopituitary? In treating the adrenals and thyroid caused by low ACTH (secondary AI) and low TSH (secondary hypothyroid), treatment is the same as it is for primary Adrenal Insufficiency and primary hypothyroid. Sex hormone treatment can be different with the use of HCG (almost identical to LH) in secondaries hypogonadism (low LH and FSH production in the pituitary which will cause low sex hormones in men and women), whereas primary hypogonadism involves the gonads being the cause of low sex hormones, LH and FSH will go up. The treatment for primary hypogonadism is the use of testosterone (in men, sometimes along with estrogen blocker) and estrogen, progesterone and even testosterone in women. Some men with primary hypogonadism also use HCG, but is rarely used in women.
5) What labs will detect hypopituitarism? -low TSH (below 1.8 for men, below 0.8 for women) -low ACTH (below 30 for am. Is possible to be secondary with ACTH as high as low 40s) -ACTH stimulation or ITT that doubles cortisol from a low base value. -ITT for GH stim -low GHRH -low TRH -low vasopressin (hypothalamic hormone which is stored in the pituitary) -low renin and low aldosterone -very low or below range prolactin-usually this test is inconclusive for determing if other low pituitary hormones could be present. -low oxytocin (rarely tested, is a hypothalamic hormone which isstored and released from the pituitary) -alpha MSH (rarely tested, is a byproduct of ACTH) 6) If I cant afford all those labs, can you tell just from TSH? DHEA? If not on any thyroid treatment, I go by the TSH: less than .8 for women, less than 1.8 for men for determining secondary hypothyroid. I use 1.3 and above for women and 2.2 and above for men to determine primary hypo. In between .8 and 1.3 for women and 1.8 and 2.2 for men is less certain to whether secondary or not. A serum TRH and TRH STIM can help if you fall in that grey area. DHEA, if in the lower half of the range usually, but not always, indicates possible secondary adrenal insufficiency. Serum ACTH and ACTH STIM are the best tests for determining if secondary. If one has already started steroid without proper testing, the next best test for determining secondary AI is the renin test.
7) Can you detect hypopituitarism from saliva cortisol labs? No, because the test only shows what cortisol levels are, not what ACTH levels are doing. There is no saliva lab for ACTH as far as I know. 8 ) Im already on hydrocortisone (HC), can I test cortisol and or ACTH levels? No, once steroid is started, those tests are not reliable. In every case Ive seen where a doctor uses these tests for dosing a patients cortisol replacement, the patient was left undertreated. ACTH will go to pretty much zero in proper cortisol dosing.
9) Is there any test for hypopituitarism once started on HC? For detecting secondary (low ACTH) AI when proper testing hasnt been done (serum acth, DHEA-S, acth stimulation test), the renin test (with aldosterone) is the next best thing and is highly reliable if the test is done right (fast salt for 24 hours). Renin is low 99% of the time in secondaries.seehttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/518024
10) If one pituitary hormone is low, does that mean all of them are? In more than 99% of cases of hypopituitary, 2 to 3 pituitary hormones will be deficie
nt. Keep in mind interpreting tests is subjective. One doc like an osteopath (US) may see problems, an endocrinologist will probably will say your tests are ok. When all pituitary hormones are deficient to missing, this is called panhypopituitarism. True panhypopituitarism is fairly rare. Some definitions say not all pituitary hormones have to be deficient, but most. I go by the the strict definition all pituitary hormones being deficient or absent in the anterior pituitary. Ive seen one case of real panhypopituitarism.
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Frequently asked HYPOPITUITARY questions....and their ...
What are the symptoms of hypopituitarism? ...
The symptoms of hypopituitarism depend on the specific hormone that is lacking. For example, patients with reduced ACTH secretion have low cortisol levels, which can result in loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness and/or lightheadedness. This condition is called "adrenal insufficiency." Patients with reduced TSH secretion have low thyroid hormone levels resulting in a condition called "hypothyroidism". Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism can include weight gain, fatigue, dry skin, constipation, cold intolerance and hair loss. Women of reproductive age with reduced LH and FSH secretion develop amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods), infertility, and bone loss due to low estrogen levels. Men with low LH and FSH levels develop low testosterone levels, which results in lack of libido (sex drive), erectile dyfunction, infertility, fatigue, body composition abnormalities (loss of muscle mass and an increase in abdominal fat), bone loss, and sometimes, depression. Low growth hormone (GH) in children leads to short stature. In adults, GH deficiency is associated with a diminished quality of life, body composition abnormalities (including a reduction in muscle mass and increase in abdominal fat mass) and low bone density. Women with low prolactin are unable to breastfeed, but there are no known adverse effects of low prolactin in men.
Hypopituitarism is caused by damage to the pituitary gland, usually from a tumor, radiation, surgery. Traumatic brain injury and subarachnoid hemorrhages can also cause hypopituitarism. Occasionally inflammation can cause hypopituitarism and sometimes the cause is unclear. Medications can also cause hypopituitarism. For example, high-dose steroid use can lead to adrenal insufficiency and anabolic steroid use can result in low testosterone that lasts beyond the time in which the medication is used and can be permanent.
The complications of hypopituitarism are due to the specific hormone deficiency. See "What are the symptoms of hypopituitarism" above. Patient with hypopituitarism not receiving appropriate hormone replacement therapies have an increased risk of mortality.
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in endocrine (hormonal) disorders.
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Hypopituitarism and Hypopituitarism Resources - What is ...
Hypopituitarism is a general term that refers to any under function of the pituitary gland. This is a clinical definition used by endocrinologists and is interpreted to mean that one or more functions of the pituitary are deficient. The term may refer to both anterior and posterior pituitary gland failure.
Deficient pituitary gland function can result from damage to either the pituitary or the area just above the pituitary, the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus contains releasing and inhibitory hormones which control the pituitary. Since these hormones are necessary for normal pituitary function, damage to the hypothalamus can also result in deficient pituitary gland function. Injury to the pituitary can occur from a variety of insults, including damage from an enlarging pituitary tumor, irradiation to the pituitary, pituitary apoplexy, trauma and abnormal iron storage (hemochromatosis). With increasing damage there is a progressive decrease in function. There appears to be a predictable loss of hormonal function with increasing damage. The progression from most vulnerable to least vulnerable is usually as follows: first is growth hormone (GH), next the gonadotropins (LH and FSH which control sexual/reproductive function), followed by TSH (which control thyroid hormone release) and finally the last to be lost is typically ACTH (which controls adrenal function).
Sheehan's syndrome is a condition that may occur in a woman who has a severe uterine hemorrhage during childbirth. The resulting severe blood loss causes tissue death in her pituitary gland and leads to hypopituitarism following the birth. For more on this Sheehan's syndrome, please visit MedlinePlus on Sheehan's Syndrome.
Deficiency of ACTH resulting in cortisol deficiency is the most dangerous and life threatening of the hormonal deficiency syndromes. With gradual onset of deficiency over days or weeks, symptoms are often vague and may include weight loss, fatigue, weakness, depression, apathy, nausea, vomiting, anorexia and hyperpigmentation. As the deficiency becomes more serious or has a more rapid onset, (Addisonian crisis) symptoms may include confusion, stupor, psychosis, abnormal electrolytes (low serum sodium, elevated serum potassium), and vascular collapse (low blood pressure and shock) which can be fatal. Treatment consists of cortisol administration or another similar steroid (like prednisone). For patients with acute adrenal insufficiency (Addisonian crisis), rapid intravenous administration of high dose steroids is essential to reverse the crisis.
Deficiency of thyroid hormone causes a syndrome consisting of decreased energy, increased need to sleep, intolerance of cold (inability to stay warm), dry skin, constipation, muscle aching and decreased mental functions. This constellation of symptoms is very uncomfortable and is often the symptom complex that drives patients with pituitary disease to seek medical attention. Replacement therapy consists of a daily pill called thyroxine (Synthroid, Levothyroxine etc). The correct dose is determined through blood tests.
Women develop ovarian suppression with irregular periods or absence of periods (amenorrhea), infertility, decreased libido, decreased vaginal secretions, breast atrophy, and osteoporosis. Blood levels of estradiol are low. Estrogen should be replaced and can be given orally as Premarin or estrace, or can be given as a patch applied twice weekly. Women taking estrogen also need to take progesterone replacement (unless they have undergone a hysterectomy). Annual pap smears and mammograms are mandatory.
Men develop testicular suppression with decreased libido, impotence, decreased ejaculate volume, loss of body and facial hair, weakness, fatigue and often anemia. On testing, blood levels of testosterone are low and should be replaced. In the United States, testosterone may be given as a bi-weekly intramuscular injection, a patch form, or a gel preparation. In other countries, oral preparations of testosterone are available.
Growth hormone is necessary in children for growth, but also appears necessary in adults to maintain normal body composition (muscle and bone mass). It may also be helpful for maintaining an adequate energy level, optimal cardiovascular status and some mental functions. Symptoms of GH deficiency in adults include fatigue, poor exercise performance and symptoms of social isolation. GH is only available in injectable form and must be given 6-7 times per week.
This problem arises from damage to the pituitary stalk or the posterior pituitary gland. It may occur transiently after transsphenoidal surgery but is rarely permanent. Patients with diabetes insipidus have increased thirst and urination. Replacement of antidiuretic hormone resolves these symptoms. Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) is currently replaced by administration of DDAVP (also called Desmopressin) a synthetic type of ADH. DDAVP can be given by subcutaneous injection, intranasal spray, or by tablet, usually once or twice a day.