What are the Symptoms of Acromegaly?

Excess secretion of growth hormone in children produces the syndrome known as Gigantism. The excessive growth hormone causes a massive acceleration of growth, and heights in excess of 7-8 feet can be reached.

In the adult, excess growth hormone presents as Acromegaly. Acromegaly can present in a huge array of signs and symptoms. A list of the signs and symptoms of acromegaly is given below:

The Head

  • Large tongue
  • Interdental separation - separation of teeth due to alveolar bone growth
  • Prominent supraorbital ridge
  • Prognathism - growth of the mandible leading to a jutting jaw
  • Visual field defects
  • Goitre - due to generalised visceral enlargement
  • Headaches

The Body

  • Galactorrhoea
  • Hirsuties
  • Heart failure
  • Generalised organomegaly - increase in size of heart, kidney, spleen,liver etc..
  • Hypertension
  • Impotence
  • Amenorrhoea

The Limbs

  • Increase in size of hands and feet
  • Tight-fitting rings
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Proximal myopathy
  • Arthropathy
  • Oedema

The most common presenting complaint is that of a change in appearance. This is can be seen by studying old photographs. Acromegaly usually presents as a subtle disease with the clinical features developing over many years.

Some patients may present with galactorrhoea as in some tumours, both somatotrophin and prolactin are secreted.

Approximately a quarter of acromegaly patients have an impaired glucose tolerance due to the increased gluconeogenesis produced by the growth hormone.