The pituitary gland is a pea shaped organ found at the base of the brain. This is a master gland which controls the functioning of the other endocrine glands in the body. The secretions of hormones like thyroid, cortisol, testosterone and estrogen and hence the regulation of homeostasis in the body is controlled by this gland. Additionally, it produces the growth hormone, oxytocin for uterine contractions during birth of the child and prolactin for stimulation of milk secretion after birth of a child.
Since various functions are controlled by this gland, a malfunctioning of a particular portion of the gland will have different symptoms at different ages. The common disorder is development of tumors in the adults and middle aged people which can be secreting or non-secreting.
Some of the symptoms of a malfunction of pituitary gland are:
- Headache and problems in the vision caused due to pressure of the tumor on the optic nerve.
- Stoppage of menstruation, impotency in men, reduction of milk production in lactating mothers.
- Infertility in women and men.
- Malfunctioning in posterior may lead to diabetes insipidus leading to extreme thirst and release of large quantities of urine.
- Excessive secretion of growth hormones can cause abnormal growth called acromegaly. This will result in disproportionate growth of the feet, hands, brows and lower jaw. It also leads to high blood pressure.
- Adrenocorticotropic secreting tumors produce symptoms related to Cushing’s disease like facial hair growth, depression, weight gain and moon face.
- Tumors causing secretion of thyroid stimulating hormone disturb body metabolism.
- Tumors secreting reproductive hormones can cause infertility.
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