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People with a pituitary gland tumor may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with a pituitary gland tumor do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not related to a pituitary gland tumor. If you are concerned about a symptom or sign on this list, please talk with your doctor. General symptoms may include:
- Vision Problems
- Changes in menstrual cycles in women
- Impotence (the inability to achieve or maintain an erection) in men, caused by hormone changes
- Infertility (the inability to have children)
- Inappropriate production of breast milk
- Cushing’s syndrome (a combination of weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, and easy bruising), caused by overproduction of ACTH
- Acromegaly (enlargement of the extremities or limbs and thickening of the skull and jaw), from too much growth hormone
- Unexplained tiredness
A pituitary tumor causes symptoms in three different ways:
- By producing too much of one or more hormones.
Growth hormone. The symptoms depend on the patient’s age. In children, before the bone plates have closed, increased growth can cause gigantismn (excessive body size and height). In adults, increased growth hormone causes acromegaly, a syndrome that includes excessive growth of soft tissues and bones, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, increased snoring, carpal tunnel syndrome, and pain (including headaches).
Thyroid stimulating hormone. Causes increased production of thyroid hormone, leading to nervousness and irritability, fast heart rate and high blood pressure, heart disease, increased sweating, thin skin, and weight loss
Prolactin. Causes inappropriate secretion of breast milk (even in men), osteoporosis (bone weakening), loss of sex drive, infertility, irregular menstrual cycles, and impotence
Adrenocorticotropic hormone. Causes weight gain (particularly in the body’s trunk, not the legs or arms), high blood pressure, high blood sugar, brittle bones, emotional changes, stretch marks on the skin, easy bruising
Gonadotropins (FSH and LH). Usually not high enough to cause symptoms but can rarely cause infertility and irregular menstrual cycles in women
- By pressing on the pituitary gland, causing it to make too little of one or more hormones.
Growth hormone. Causes late growth in children, poor muscle strength, irritability, weakening of bone strength, and overall unwell feeling
Thyroid stimulating hormone. Causes fatigue, low energy, sensitivity to cold temperatures, constipation, and weight gain
Prolactin. Causes inability to breastfeed after a woman gives birth to a baby
Adrenocorticotropic hormone. Causes fatigue and low energy, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and upset stomach
Gonadotropins (FSH and LH). Causes infertility, decrease in sex drive, impotence, and irregular menstrual cycles
- By pressing on the optic (eye) nerves or (less commonly) the nerves controlling eye movements, and causing either loss of part or all of a person’s sight, or double vision.
Your doctor will ask you questions about the symptoms you are experiencing to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis. This may include how long you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s) and how often.
If a tumor is diagnosed, relieving symptoms and side effects remains an important part of care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.