When tumors press the pituitary gland, they disrupt hormone production. More common are benign tumors of the glandular tissue, HVL adenomas, which cause hormonal imbalance. Malignant tumors of the pituitary gland are extremely rare. An inflammation of the meninges or the brain (encephalitis), an accident or surgery, radiation or circulatory disorders may affect the function of the pituitary gland.
What happens if the pituitary gland does not produce enough hormones?
- If the pituitary gland produces too little ADH, central diabetes insipidus (not to be confused with diabetes mellitus, the "diabetes mellitus") is produced, and those affected can not retain water in the body and excrete up to 20 liters of urine a day to replace fluid loss, they drink a lot.
- A lack of growth hormone (GH) leads to hypophysial dwarfism in children. The children stay small, but intelligence and body proportions are normal. In adults, GH deficiency increases fat storage in the abdominal area and muscle mass decreases. The fat metabolism is disturbed and the risk of vascular calcification increases.
- When too little FSH and LH are produced, the menstruation lapses in women, in men the sexual potency is disturbed. The hair in the armpit and pubic area decreases and the desire for sex decreases.
- Lack of TSH leads to hypothyroidism. Symptoms include fatigue and listlessness, weight loss, freezing, constipation and sometimes depression.
- If the body lacks ACTH, it affects the sugar, salt and fluid balance. Blood pressure and blood sugar fall, those affected are often lacking in drive.
- If too little MSH is produced, the skin looks pale.
- Lack of prolactin causes nursing women to stop producing milk.
What happens if the pituitary gland produces too much hormones?
Some of the benign tumors of the pituitary gland produce even hormones - it comes to an overproduction.
- The most common benign hormone-producing tumor of the pituitary gland is the prolactinoma, which produces prolactin. Women with a prolactinoma suffer from impaired menstruation and sexual aversion, and some also have lactation from the mammary glands. In men, the potency is affected and the desire for sex decreases.
- If the pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone, it leads to excessive growth in size (gigantism) in children. In adults, it triggers acromegaly: hands, feet and head grow, the facial features become "coarser". The internal organs also become disproportionately large.
- By overproduction of ACTH, the adrenals release too much cortisol, so the Cushing syndrome is triggered. Those affected have a round, large face, thin arms and legs, but strong accumulation of fat in the abdominal and neck area (trunk fatty acid) and red stripes on the skin (Striae rubrae). There are also disorders of the sugar metabolism, in some cases diabetes, as well as the breakdown of bone and muscle tissue.
- If the pituitary spews too much ADH, this is called Schwartz-Bartter syndrome (SIADH). Causes can include inflammation in the brain, severe burns or the use of certain medications (for example, tricyclic antidepressants). In many cases, the disease goes unrecognized, sometimes nausea, vomiting, headache or muscle spasms.
Further effects of a pituitary tumor
Particularly large tumors on the pituitary gland cause visual disturbances because they press on the adjacent junction of the optic nerves. Sometimes headaches also occur.
How can I protect and support my pituitary gland?
There is no actual protection for the pituitary gland. Everything that is good for the whole organism, ie a balanced diet, regular exercise and as little stress as possible, naturally also supports the pituitary gland.