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Hypopituitarism Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms

Symptoms often begin gradually. They may not be recognized for a while. Specific symptoms will depend on the type and level of hormone effected, for example:

  • Growth hormone deficiency:
    • Poor overall growth
    • Short stature
    • Increased blood pressure
    • Central obesity
    • Muscle weakness
    • Small heart
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone deficiency:
    • Sensitivity to cold
    • Weight gain
    • Constipation
    • Hair that is brittle and coarse
    • Heart rate slowed
    • Dry skin
    • Muscle weakness or fatigue
  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) deficiency:
    • Fatigue and weakness
    • Low blood pressure
    • Weight loss
    • Increase in skin pigmentation
    • Amenorrhea
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone deficiency:
    • Infertility in men and women
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Loss of some gender-specific sexual characteristics (women may lose hair from their underarms, body, and pubic area)
    • Reduced libido
    • Amenorrhea
    • Erectile dysfunction
    • Muscle weakness
    • Small testes
    • Breast enlargement in men

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist. This is a type of doctor that focuses on hormone disorders.

Tests to determine hypopituitarism include taking a blood sample to do the following:

  • Measure the levels of hormones produced by the pituitary gland
  • Measure the levels of hormones produced by target endocrine glands, which are influenced by the pituitary gland

Provocative tests of pituitary function may also be done such as:

  • Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) test
  • Arginine stimulation test
  • L-dopa
  • Clonidine stimulation test
  • Insulin tolerance test
  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation test

Once the diagnosis is confirmed:

  • Lateral skull x-ray imaging tests (eg, an MRI )—to identify problems such as abnormal tissue and growth or shrinkage of the pituitary gland

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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