Acromegaly is a rare hormonal disorder that results in the pituitary gland in the brain creating excess growth hormone. The disorder can occur at any age, but is most common in middle-aged adults. When a child produces too much growth hormone, they are often diagnosed with gigantism, which results in excessive bone growth and height. The signs of acromegaly typically develop more slowly. This, coupled with the rareness of the condition makes diagnosis challenging. If acromegaly goes untreated, it can lead to serious complications and may be fatal.
Growth hormone (GH) is essential for the normal physical growth of the human body in childhood. GH progressively increases during childhood and peaks during puberty. Produced by the anterior pituitary gland, the hormone has many functions within the body. GH is responsible for strengthening and increasing mineralization of the bones, increasing protein synthesis, stimulating the immune system, decreasing liver uptake of glucose, stimulating the growth of all organs except for the brain, and increasing muscle mass. Growth hormone deficiencies can lead to growth failure, short stature, and delayed sexual maturity in children, and weaker bones in adults.
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