Your organs do not work independently. As a matter of fact, very few things (organs, systems or otherwise) in your body work autonomously. Most of them are dependent on something else in your body—which is dependent on something else—and so on. In fact you might think of the inner workings of your body as a domino display. If you knock one domino down, the others will follow suit.

With that in mind you can imagine just how important every little gland in your body is. And that is what makes hypopituitarism is very disturbing. Hypopituitarism is a disorder that affects an extremely important gland in your brain that is called the pituitary gland. When you have hypopituitarism, it means that the eight hormones that your pituitary gland is responsible for secreting are in short supply.

Symptoms of Hypopituitarism
In the majority of cases, hypopituitarism results in some kind of sexual dysfunction. As such there may be a decrease in the hypopituitarism patient’s desire to have sexual intercourse, there may be some menstrual cycle disturbances, puberty could be delayed and men may lose hair on their scrotum. Additionally, men and women who suffer from hypopituitarism may become infertile.

In addition to the above symptoms, there are also some symptoms that are not related to the reproductive or sexual organs. One of them is enlargement of the hands and feet. Interestingly, it isn’t the hypopituitarism that causes these enlarged body parts, it is the increased production of human growth hormone (HGH) which sometimes causes hypopituitarism. Lastly, sufferers of hypopituitarism may notice loss or decreased health of hair, nails and skin. This is actually due just to the hypopituitarism and not due to one of hypopituitarism’s underlying causes.

Causes of Hypopituitarism

One of the most frequent causes of hypopituitarism is a tumor. These tumors (called pituitary adenomas) restrict the gland and interrupt its ability to produce hormones. Sometimes, the pituitary gland can be affected by a brain injury. These injuries must be so traumatic that they alter the way the pituitary gland works. Sometimes, even something as seemingly simple as infection can damage your pituitary gland so intensely that it stops working effectively; in some cases these infections cause an inflammation that impacts the pituitary gland.

What Should You Do?
If you think you might be suffering from hypopituitarism or if you are experiencing any symptoms that lead you to think your pituitary gland functioning may be compromised, you should consult your doctor immediately. He or she can conduct the blood tests that determine whether or not you have a hormone deficiency. Once they determine that there is a shortage of hormones produced by your pituitary gland, they will begin to explore your brain to find out why the pituitary gland is not working the way that it should.

The next step, after identifying the cause of the hypopituitarism is to treat it. Treatment may consist of tumor removal, but this is only possible in certain circumstances. Other possibilities for treatment of hypopituitarism include hormone replacement therapy which can help level out your hormone levels and get your body functioning a little closer to normal or dopamine medications which works by improving the way your pituitary gland is able to secrete hormones. That means it doesn’t actually solve any problems caused by the underlying problem but it does compensate for the low hormone levels.

No matter what treatment you end up needing, the first step is to make that appointment with your primary care physician. Don’t put it off, because early detection of tumors (if that is behind your hypopituitarism) can be life saving.

Last updated on Mar 26th, 2010 and filed under Endocrine System. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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