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Introduction

What are the signs of pituitary problems?

Pituitary symptoms occur as a result of changes in the amount of various hormones that are excreted by the pituitary gland. Pituitary symptoms may be caused by too much or too little of the different types of hormones or by imbalances among them. Symptoms may also result from pressure exerted on structures surrounding the pituitary, such as the optic nerve, by tumor or swelling.

Pituitary symptoms can affect anyone at any age. Pituitary symptoms may be nonspecific, occurring in association with many different medical conditions, or they may be the result of a growth in or around the pituitary gland. If you think you have pituitary symptoms, it is important for you to discuss them promptly with your doctor.

The pituitary gland is a small structure that sits between the top of the nose and the base of the brain. It secretes a variety of important hormones, including adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), growth hormone (GH), prolactin, gonadotropins (FSH and LH), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). These hormones perform a wide range of essential tasks in your body, and pituitary symptoms vary widely, depending on which hormones are involved.

Many tumors that cause pituitary symptoms are benign (not associated with cancer) and can be removed surgically. Pituitary symptoms can also be the result of other illnesses not associated with tumors. Many pituitary tumors are so small that they cause only mild symptoms or none at all, and they may not require treatment.

Seek prompt medical care if you experience any pituitary symptoms or are concerned about the possibility of a pituitary tumor. Seek immediate medical care (call 911)for serious symptoms, such as change in level of consciousness, chest pain or tightness, or loss of vision, as these could be signs of a life-threatening condition.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Sep 20, 2013

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Medical References

  1. Bope ET, Kellerman RD (Eds.) Conn’s Current Therapy. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2013.
  2. Domino FJ (Ed.) Five Minute Clinical Consult. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.
  3. Pituitary tumor. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000704.htm. Accessed September 20, 2013.
  4. Pituitary tumor symptoms. Neuroendocrine Clinical Center & Pituitary Tumor Center. http://pituitary.mgh.harvard.edu/pitsympt.htm. Accessed September 20, 2013.


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