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Acromegaly

AMBULATORY CARE:

Acromegaly

is a condition caused by increased levels of growth hormone (GH). GH helps your body use energy and build bones, muscles, and tissues. GH is made by your pituitary gland, a small organ in your brain. A benign (not cancer) tumor on your pituitary gland is the most common cause of acromegaly.

Signs and symptoms:

Signs and symptoms may develop slowly and get worse over time. You may have any of the following:

  • Swelling in your hands or feet
  • A large forehead, a jaw that sticks out, or teeth with large spaces
  • Rough, thick, oily skin, or skin tags
  • Heavy sweating
  • Severe headaches
  • Joint or bone pain, muscle weakness, or getting tired easily
  • Problems with your vision

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • and any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have a severe headache that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You suddenly lose your vision.
  • Your heart is beating faster than usual.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms do not get better with treatment, or get worse.
  • Someone sees you stop breathing for more than 10 seconds while you sleep.
  • You notice changes in your vision.
  • You think you might be pregnant.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for acromegaly

may include any of the following:

  • Medicine may be given to help lower your GH level.
  • Radiation therapy or radiosurgery uses high-energy x-ray beams to kill tumor cells and decrease the size of your pituitary tumor. Radiosurgery may help decrease the risk that the pituitary tumor will grow back.
  • Surgery may be done to remove a tumor on your pituitary gland.

Self-care:

  • Use skin care products that help decrease oil. Ask your healthcare provider what creams or soaps can help decrease oil on your skin.
  • Apply ice or heat to painful joints. Both can help decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to your skin. Place ice on your joint for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. You can apply a heat pack or warm compress for 20 minutes every 2 hours.
  • Use support devices. You may be given splints to wear on your hands to help your joints rest and to decrease inflammation. While you sleep, use a pillow that is firm enough to support your neck and head.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need a blood test every 3 to 4 months to check your hormone levels. You may need an EKG and a colonoscopy every year. These tests help monitor you for heart disease and colon cancer. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Acromegaly (Ambulatory Care)

Mayo Clinic Reference

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