Pituitary adenoma

Symptom of pituitary adenoma

If pituitary adenomas grow too large, they compress the healthy pituitary gland and decrease proper functioning of the organ, causing symptoms including reduced libido and impotence in men and irregular or absent periods in women, as well as tiredness and other effects.

Large pituitary adenomas may also compress the optic nerve, which runs immediately above the pituitary to the eyes, causing loss of peripheral vision. Loss of peripheral vision may result in events like stopping at a red light and not noticing that the traffic light above and to the left has turned green until the car behind sounds its horn, tending to bump into people in crowds who come toward you from an angle, or stumbling over fire extinguishers in corridors. Although extremely rare, sudden headaches with impaired vision in both eyes may sometimes occur, caused by bleeding inside the pituitary tumor. In this case, it is important to distinguish this type of bleeding from subarachnoid hemorrhage immediately, and emergency removal of the pituitary adenoma and the site of bleeding should be considered. Pituitary tumors that produce excessive amounts of a particular hormone cause different symptoms, depending on the specific hormone involved.

[ Visual field deficit ]

M Matsumae. Understanding the tumor. Clinical study. Vol 29, No. 14, 2008
Medical Friend Co. Ltd. Illustrator Kitahara Isao

In women, prolactin-producing adenomas first result in irregular or absent periods, as well as irregular milk secretion. They can also cause ovulatory problems, and infertility testing therefore always includes a blood test for prolactin. In men, they cause reduced libido or impotence. Symptoms often go unnoticed for some time in men, and the tumor is frequently only discovered when it has grown to a considerable size. Milk secretion is also sometimes seen in men. In some cases, a blood test may incidentally show high prolactin levels, while specific testing for pituitary tumors does not reveal any problems with the pituitary. In such cases, caution is required, as some oral medications can increase prolactin levels, including antihypertensives, stomach medicine, nausea medication, oral contraceptives, and psychiatric drugs. Please bring a record of any medications you have been taking with you when you attend the outpatient clinic, as changing the drug causing the problem to a different type of medication will probably resolve the issue.

Pituitary adenomas that produce excessive growth hormone cause different symptoms in children and adults. For children who have this disorder, body height increases abnormally and the arms and legs grow longer than normal. This is known as "gigantism". Adults with this type of adenoma experience excessive growth of soft tissues in extremities of the arms and legs as well as an enlarged forehead. The lower jaw, nose, lips, tongue, and other body parts may also become enlarged. This is known as "acromegaly". Such pituitary adenomas are often discovered when people notice that their shoes or rings no longer fit, or that the appearance of their face has changed significantly compared with a few years previously. Pituitary adenomas may also cause disorders such as diabetes, colon cancer and hypertension. These conditions are all associated with a decreased lifespan.

page top