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Acromegaly (say "ack-roh-MEH-guh-lee") is a condition in which the body makes too much growth hormone. This causes abnormal growth of bones and tissues. It is noticed mostly in the hands and feet. It can also affect internal organs, such as the heart. The condition also can cause changes in the face. For example, the brow and lower jaw can grow and stick out, and the nasal bone can get bigger. In most cases, these changes happen slowly over many years.
People with the condition may have a greater risk of certain diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis. And they may have other problems such as sleep apnea and headaches. This condition can be painful. This is because the bones may keep growing after they have reached their adult size.
Acromegaly is often caused by a tumour of the pituitary gland, which is where growth hormone is made. But the tumour isn't cancer. It can be treated with medicine, surgery, radiation treatment, or some combination of these. Rarely, a tumour in a different part of the body, such as in the pancreas gland, can cause the pituitary gland to make too much growth hormone. This also can lead to acromegaly. Treatment may stop some abnormal growth, but bones don't go back to normal after the treatment.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.
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Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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