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Hypopituitarism is a health condition in which there is a reduction in the production of hormones by the pituitary gland.
The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain and is responsible for the production of several hormones, including:
An individual with hypopituitarism shows a deficiency in one or more of these hormones. This inevitably leads to abnormal body function, as an effect of the low levels of the hormone in the body, and may result in symptoms.
Hypopituitarism is most commonly due to the destruction, compression or inflammation of pituitary tissue by a brain tumor in that region. Other causes include:
General symptoms that are associated with pituitary hormone deficiency include:
There are also likely to be more specific symptoms according to the type of pituitary hormone deficiency, such as:
The first step in the treatment of hypopituitarism is to identify the cause of the condition.
Secondly, the hormones that are deficient must be identified. From this point, the appropriate treatment decisions can be made to promote optimal patient outcomes.
Hormone replacement therapy is the most common type of treatment for a patient with hypopituitarism.
This may involve supplementation of one or more hormones that are deficient, to reduce or correct the impact of the deficiency.
As hormone replacement therapy is expected to continue on a lifelong basis, it is important that patients have a good understanding of the therapy.
It is especially important to educate patients on what to do in case of particular circumstances that may change their hormone requirements.
For example, during periods of high stress, the demand for many hormones is increased, and the dose of hormone replacement may need to be adjusted accordingly.
It is recommended that patients have regular blood tests to monitor their hormone levels and ensure that they are in the normal range.
Patients should also carry medical identification, such as a medical bracelet or necklace, to show that they are affected by hypopituitarism and inform others about their hormone replacement needs and current treatment. This can help to meet their medical needs in case of any emergency.
Hypopituitarism is a rare disorder that affects less than 200,000 individuals in the United States, with an incidence of 4.2 cases per 100,000 people per year.
The incidence is expected to be higher in certain subsets of the population, such as those that have suffered from a brain injury. Statistics in reference to these population groups have not yet been determined.