What is Hypersecretion of Growth Hormone in Adults?

Acromegaly, or hypersecretion of growth hormone in adults, is caused by excessive or uncontrolled secretion of growth hormone by the anterior pituitary gland.

Acromegaly can result in prominent overgrowth to the skeleton since adult epiphyses have long fused and closed.

What are the hypersecretion of growth hormone causes that adults should know?

There are two primary causes of growth hormone hypersecretion:

  • A benign tumor of the pituitary gland
  • Overproduction of growth hormone-releasing hormone by the hypothalamus

Hypersecretion of a growth hormone in adults is most common during middle age, and if left untreated, could lead to serious illness and even premature death.

Hypersecretion of Growth Hormone

The chart here shows the difference in sleep levels of growth hormone in adults with and without acromegaly. The pituitary gland releases about one half the day’s allotment of GH during sleep. Of the normal peak bursts that occur in deep, slow-wave sleep, secretion is ongoing throughout the night.

A doctor will use blood analysis, physical examination, and x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs of the hand and skull to diagnose hypersecretion of growth hormone.

Symptoms of Hypersecretion of Growth Hormone in Adults

The hypersecretion of growth hormone in adults result in numerous symptoms that can forewarn of the problem. Some of the changes occur as a direct result of the pituitary tumor, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Pressure behind the eyes
  • Changes in vision

Other symptoms of hypersecretion of growth hormone in adults are due to excess GH release into the bloodstream, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Joint pains
  • Hand and feet enlargement
  • Soft tissue swelling
  • Sleep apnea
  • Increased sweating
  • High blood pressure
  • Enlargement of the jaw and facial bones
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Coarsening of the skin, hair, and facial features
  • Sinus congestion
  • Offensive body odor
  • Furrowing and enlargement of the tongue
  • Arthritis
  • Internal organ enlargement
  • Cardiac disease
  • Changes in menstrual cycle

Because there is a connection between hypersecretion of growth hormone and diabetes, it is important for people with diabetes to be alert to any of the other changes mentioned here.

Because of the impact on the internal organs and heart, untreated hypersecretion of growth hormone in adulthood leads to more serious health concerns in many instances.

Treatment of Hypersecretion of Growth Hormone in Adults

Before there can be treatment, there must be a diagnosis of hypersecretion of growth hormone. A doctor specializing in hormone replacement can start the process by running diagnostic blood tests, and if there is a concern that acromegaly is an issue, can refer the patient to an appropriate specialist for further testing.

If the condition has been brought about by a tumor, then the primary hypersecretion of growth hormone treatment will be surgery to remove the tumor.

Radiation is another option for tumors, and the prescribed treatment will vary from one institution to the next and is dependent on the size of the tumor.

Drug therapies are often contraindicated when surgery or radiation are used. However, for people who do not have a tumor, or in specific cases, medications such as somatostatin analogues or dopamine agonists that suppress growth hormone secretion may be used. Some of the options include:

  • Mannitol-modified release octreotide
  • Lanreotide
  • Octreotide
  • Bromocriptine mesylate
  • Pegvisomant

If you have any questions about the effects of hypersecretion of growth hormone, or any other hormonal issues, please contact HT Medical Center to speak with a hormone specialist.