What Is Hypopituitarism?
The pituitary gland is one of the smallest parts of the endocrine system, yet it is also one of the most important. Without this tiny gland functioning as it should, your body is not going to function well either. Hypopituitarism, also known as pituitary insufficiency, is one condition that affects this important gland and can impact the health and well-being of your entire body.
Understanding the Pituitary Gland
The pituitary gland is a small gland that sits at the base of the brain, right behind the nose and between the ears. This gland may be small, but its powerful hormones affect almost every area of the body. In fact, the gland is so important to the overall function of the body that it is sometimes called the "master gland." The pituitary gland signals other glands in the body to produce their own hormones, and as such has a role to play in almost every bodily function. A deficiency in these hormones can affect many different functions, including reproduction, sexual health, growth and blood pressure.
What Is Hypopituitarism?
Hypopituitarism is a condition that occurs when the pituitary gland does not produce enough of its important hormones. Because the hormones are lacking, the condition is sometimes called pituitary insufficiency. It can occur for a variety of reasons and cause a wide range of symptoms because of the far-reaching effects of the pituitary gland.
Causes of Hypopituitarism
Hypopituitarism has a wide range of causes. Sometimes, tumors, also known as adenomas, in the pituitary gland can interfere with the production of pituitary hormones. While these tumors are rarely cancerous, they can have far-reaching effects.
Some patients who have undergone radiation treatment to remove pituitary gland tumors may notice a poor function of the gland. This occurs because the pituitary gland tissue is destroyed during the radiation treatment. Similarly, chemotherapy can destroy the tissue and leave the pituitary gland without proper function.
Patients who have had brain surgery or a traumatic brain injury may have a pituitary insufficiency. Severe bleeding on the brain or loss of blood, especially if it occurs during childbirth, can also have this impact. Patients who have had meningitis or tuberculosis may have damaged pituitary glands. In a small portion of patients, the cause is never found.
Pituitary insufficiency is a rare condition, but for those who have it, this disease can be life changing. While it can be controlled with medication, it must be dealt with consistently to ensure that the patient suffers no ill effects from the hormonal insufficiencies.