Other Endocrine

Fast Facts - Pituitary Disease

Pituitary disease includes any disease that alters the pituitary gland and results in decreased secretion of one or more pituitary hormones. Hyperpituitarism, acromegaly, galactorrhea, and hypopituitarism are some of the most common pituitary diseases.


Hyperpituitarism is a condition in which there is a increased activity of the pituitary gland resulting in increased secretion of pituitary hormones. Hyperpituitarism may lead to:

  • Acromegaly in adults

  • Gigantism in children

  • Cushing's Syndrome

  • Galactorrhea


Acromegaly encompasses an overgrowth of body tissues that results from a prolonged, excessive secretion of growth hormone (GH). The most common cause of acromegaly is a benign tumor of the somatotroph cells, which produce growth hormone. Acromegaly can lead to excessive growth of soft tissue, cartilage, and bone. Common symptoms of acromegaly inlude:

  • Elongated face and head

  • Facial hair growth

  • Excessive soft tissue growth in the throat and voice box (may cause hoarse voice or sleep apnea)

  • Enlargement in the hands and feet

  • Thickened skin or skin tags

  • Excessive sweating

  • Arthritis resulting from an overgrowth of bones that damage nearby cartilage

  • Increased risk for benign tumors and heart disease

  • Insulin resistance


Galactorrhea is a disorder characterized by a milky nipple discharge resulting from elevated levels of prolactin (the hormone responsible for milk production). This condition can be seen in women, men, and infants. Causes of Galactorrhea include:

  • Pituitary gland disorders

  • Excessive breast stimulation

  • Medication side effects


Hypopituitarism describes a decreased secretion of pituitary hormones. Signs and symptoms of hypopituitarism depend on the origin of the disease, the type, and the degree of hormonal insufficiency. This diminished secretion can result from diseases of either the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. The following is a list of causes seen with pituitary disease:

  • Pituitary tumor or tumor treatment

  • Extrapituitary tumor

  • Sarcoidosis

  • Sheehan's syndrome

  • Unknown cause