Panhypopituitarism

(PHP; Underactive Pituitary Gland)

Definition

The pituitary gland is found at the base of the brain. It produces several important hormones that control the production of other hormones made by glands in the body. In panhypopituitarism, the gland produces an insufficient amount of hormones.
Pituitary Gland
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Causes

This condition is most often caused by damage to the gland. In adults, it is usually a result of pituitary surgery. In children, damage to the pituitary gland may be caused by:
  • Infection
  • Stroke
  • Genetic factors
  • Tumor on or near the pituitary gland
  • Cancer that has spread
  • Injury
In some cases, the cause may be unknown.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of panhypopituitarism include:

Symptoms

Compression of the Tumor

Compression of the tumor on local structures, especially the nerves of the eyes, can cause:
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of visual field
  • Poor temperature control

Insufficient Hormones

  • Insufficient levels of gonadotropins can cause:
    • In premenopausal women—missed menstrual cycles, infertility , osteoporosis , vaginal dryness, loss or reduction in female characteristics
    • In men—impotence, reduced size of testes, decreased production of sperm, infertility , breast enlargement, reduced muscle mass, loss or reduction in male characteristics like beard growth
  • Insufficient levels of growth hormone can cause:
    • In children—stunted growth or dwarfism
    • In adults—weakness, obesity , reduced cardiac output, low blood sugar levels, and reduced exercise tolerance
  • Insufficient levels of thyroid-stimulating hormones can lead to:
    • Underactive thyroid , which causes confusion, hair loss, weakness, slow heart rate, muscle stiffness, intolerance to cold, constipation , weight gain, and dry skin.
  • Insufficient corticotrophic levels can lead to:
    • Underactive adrenal gland, which causes low blood pressure, low blood sugar , fatigue, weight loss, vomiting, and low stress tolerance (this can be life-threatening).
  • Excessive prolactin levels can cause:
    • In women—missed periods, infertility, and milk secretion
    • In men—reduced facial and body hair, small testes
  • Insufficient antidiuretic hormone (rare) can cause:
    • Excessive thirst and frequent urination
    • Night-time urination

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