Pituitary Gland Disorders (Signs, Symptoms, Treatment) (2022)

This leaflet gives a brief overview of the pituitary gland and the hormones it makes. The pituitary gland is found at the base of the brain and is 'pea-sized'. The pituitary gland is an overall controller of a number of other glands in the body, overseeing the function of these organs through hormones.

What is the pituitary gland?

The pituitary gland is located in the brain and is an endocrine gland. This means that it produces chemicals called hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers which help different organs in the body communicate with each other. The pituitary gland is one part of a messenger system. The pituitary gland helps to control your body's functions by releasing hormones into your bloodstream. These hormones are transported in your blood to their target. Here they usually cause the release of a second hormone. The target can either be specialised endocrine glands or other types of body tissue such as groups of cells.

The pituitary gland is sometimes called the master gland because it controls several other hormone-releasing glands. Some of the glands the pituitary gland controls are the thyroid gland, the ovaries, the testicles (testes) and the adrenal glands.

Where is the pituitary gland located?

About the size of a pea, the pituitary gland is found at the base of the brain, behind the bridge of your nose. The pituitary gland is very close to another part of the brain, called the hypothalamus.

Pituitary Gland Disorders (Signs, Symptoms, Treatment) (1)

(Video) Pituitary Disorders - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

The pituitary gland has two main parts:

  • The part of the pituitary gland at the front, called the anterior pituitary.
  • The part of the pituitary gland at the back, called the posterior pituitary.

These two parts release different hormones which are aimed at different parts of the body.

There is also a section between the two main parts, called the intermediate part, which releases a single hormone. The final part of the pituitary gland is the stalk, which connects the posterior pituitary to the hypothalamus.

How does the pituitary gland work?

Your body is in a constant state of change. Your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature all change in response to what you do and your surroundings. Your body has systems that constantly monitor these and other vital functions. Not only must these systems monitor changes, they must also respond to the changes and help the body to restore balance.

(Video) Hypopituitarism - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

Some of these systems involve the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland are part of several loops or circuits. The loops include other glands. The hormones produced by each gland complete the loops by travelling in the bloodstream between them.

The hypothalamus receives information from many sources about the basic functions of your body. It uses the information it receives to help regulate these functions. One of the ways the hypothalamus does this involves controlling the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus does this by using its own hormones to communicate with the pituitary gland.

Among the information monitored by the hypothalamus is the level of various hormones in the blood. The hypothalamus has special cells which receive information from the body indicating how much of each hormone is present in the bloodstream. When these hormones drop below a particular level this stimulates the hypothalamus to release hormones. These hormones travel to the pituitary gland, acting as the signal to the pituitary gland to produce one or more of its hormones. The hormones produced by the pituitary gland are released into the bloodstream. The bloodstream transports the pituitary hormones to other endocrine glands, such as the thyroid gland.

The pituitary gland hormones may then stimulate their target endocrine glands to produce their own hormones. These locally produced hormones do the actual work of regulating your body.

Take the example of the control of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland in your neck. The hypothalamus produces a hormone called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). TRH travels to the pituitary gland and stimulates it to release thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH travels to the thyroid gland and stimulates it to release thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. When levels of T3 and T4 get high enough, levels in the bloodstream are detected by the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus then knows to stop releasing more TRH. This last part of the loop is called negative feedback and prevents hormone levels from rising too high.

(Video) Diagnosing and Treating Pituitary Tumors - California Center for Pituitary Disorders at UCSF

Pituitary Gland Disorders (Signs, Symptoms, Treatment) (2)

The anterior pituitary produces hormones that regulate a wide range of bodily activities, from growth to reproduction. Whether a hormone is released by the anterior pituitary is governed by the hypothalamus. There are at least seven different hormones secreted by the anterior pituitary. The posterior pituitary produces just two hormones.

The anterior pituitary hormones
Hormone releasedMain targetFunction
Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)Adrenal glandsStimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Cortisol is important in controlling your metabolism, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. It is also an anti-inflammatory agent and helps your body to resist certain stresses such as bleeding or fasting.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)Ovaries -women

Testicles (testes) - men

Stimulates the ovaries to produce an egg (ovum) for fertilisation. Also causes an increase in the hormone oestrogen.

Stimulates the testicles to produce sperm.

Growth hormone (GH)Many different cells of the bodyThe most well-known effect in children is to increase height. In adults and children it helps to control the amount of muscle and fat in the body. It also helps to heal injuries and it promotes your immune system.
Luteinising hormone (LH)Ovaries - women

Testicles - men

Triggers ovulation - the release of an egg (ovum) ready for fertilisation.

Stimulates cells in the testes to produce testosterone.

Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH)Brain (not known for sure)

The exact role in humans is unknown. It may influence brain activity. When too much is present, it may cause darkening of the skin.

This is also produced in the intermediate part of the pituitary gland.

ProlactinBreastsTogether with other hormones, prolactin stimulates the breasts to produce milk. It is also found in women who aren't pregnant. Men also have prolactin but its function is not understood well.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)Thyroid gland

TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to produce its own hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).

These hormones help to control many bodily functions, including heart rate, temperature and metabolism.

The posterior pituitary makes and releases just two hormones
Hormone releasedMain targetFunction
Antidiuretic hormone (ADH)KidneysDecreases urine production. (It causes more water filtered by the kidneys to be returned to the blood. This reduces the amount of urine.)
ADH also causes a rise in blood pressure.
OxytocinBreasts and womb (uterus)Stimulates contraction of the womb during childbirth. Helps breasts to release milk.
(Video) Prolactinoma - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

Some of the pituitary gland disorders

Pituitary disorders generally occur when the pituitary gland is either too active or not active enough. Often there is a discrete piece of pituitary gland which leads to the problems, this is called a pituitary adenoma (if it is large it may be called pituitary macroadenoma). These are usually benign, non-cancerous tumours. Pituitary adenomas can cause problems through:

  1. Releasing excess of one or more hormone.
  2. Not releasing any hormones but pressing on the normal pituitary tissue and thus interfering with normal function; and/or
  3. Causing pressure on nearby structures - for example, pressing on the nerve of the eye, leading to blurred vision or loss of part of the vision.

Conditions where the pituitary gland produces too much of one or more of its hormones include:

  • Acromegaly
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Prolactinoma

Conditions where the pituitary gland fails to produce enough hormones include:

  • Adult growth hormone deficiency.
  • Diabetes insipidus.
  • Hypopituitarism.
  • Pituitary tumours.
  • Tumours of, or injury to, the hypothalamus, having a knock-on effect on the pituitary gland.

How are pituitary gland disorders diagnosed?

The diagnosis usually involves hormone blood tests and also brain scans. Hormone blood tests can be taken randomly for some hormones, but others may require specialised testing with substances that should provoke the release or prevent release in certain conditions. This may require attendance at a day unit and having several hormone blood tests throughout the day. Usually an MRI scan of the pituitary gland is undertaken to look for pituitary abnormalities - eg, pituitary adenoma or cysts.

What is the treatment for pituitary glanddisorders?

This will depend upon the cause. If there is hormone deficiency then this may need replacement with tablets. If a tumour is discovered as the cause of the problems then pituitary surgery may be required. This is usually via the nose. If there is a pituitary tumour which is found to be cancerous then radiotherapy may be needed after surgery. There may also be a need for lifelong hormone replacement following any treatment.

(Video) Pituitary Tumor: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Further more detailed information available free online

The Hypophysis Cerebri

From Gray's Anatomy Online
Web: www.bartleby.com/107/275.html

Human Physiology/The endocrine system

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection
Web: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Human_Physiology/The_endocrine_system

Additional reading information can be found in the 'Further reading' section, below.

FAQs

What is the treatment for pituitary gland disorders? ›

Doctors generally use surgery, radiation therapy and medications, either alone or in combination, to treat a pituitary tumor and return hormone production to normal levels.

What are 2 disorders of the pituitary gland? ›

A list of the more common pituitary disorders include:
  • Functinal pituitary adenomas that result in overproduction of hormones.
  • Prolactinoma.
  • Cushing's disease.
  • Acromegaly.
  • Non-functional pituitary adenomas.
  • Pituitary apoplexy.

What are the symptoms of your pituitary gland not working? ›

Severe fatigue. Low blood pressure, which may lead to fainting. Frequent and prolonged infections. Nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain.

What is the most common pituitary disorder? ›

Pituitary Gland Disorders and Tumors. Pituitary tumors, also called pituitary adenomas, are the most common cause of pituitary gland disorders. More than 99 percent of these tumors are benign.

What would be symptoms of a person with a pituitary tumor? ›

Pituitary Gland Tumor: Symptoms and Signs
  • Headaches.
  • Vision problems.
  • Unexplained tiredness.
  • Mood changes.
  • Irritability.
  • Unexplained changes in menstrual cycles.
  • Erectile dysfunction, which is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection and is caused by hormone changes.
  • Infertility, which is the inability to have children.

How is pituitary disorder diagnosed? ›

Hormone testing is crucial for diagnosing pituitary tumors. For some people, a small pituitary tumor does not cause symptoms. The only way to diagnose it is by studying your hormones. Dynamic endocrine testing is a series of special blood tests that help your endocrinologist rule out other conditions.

How do you treat pituitary gland naturally? ›

8 Natural Remedies for Hypopituitarism
  1. L-arginine. L-arginine is a type of amino acid that stimulates the production of certain hormones. ...
  2. Probiotics. The gut microflora has metabolic effects. ...
  3. Copper. ...
  4. Glycine. ...
  5. Adaptogen Herbs. ...
  6. Healthy Fats. ...
  7. Exercise. ...
  8. Sleep.
27 Feb 2017

How do you test for pituitary disorders? ›

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or high-resolution computerized tomography (CT) of your brain can detect a pituitary tumor or other pituitary gland problems.

What blood tests test pituitary function? ›

Venous Blood Sampling

Sometimes ACTH levels may be high due to a tumor located somewhere else in the body. For these reasons, doctors may order a pituitary venous blood sampling test, also called petrosal sinus sampling.

What can damage the pituitary gland? ›

Trauma may cause your pituitary gland to stop producing enough of one or more of its hormones. For example, if you had brain surgery, a brain infection, or a head injury, may affect your pituitary gland. Certain tumors can also affect the function of this gland.

Can stress affect your pituitary gland? ›

During times of stress, the hypothalamus, a collection of nuclei that connects the brain and the endocrine system, signals the pituitary gland to produce a hormone, which in turn signals the adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, to increase the production of cortisol.

How can I improve my pituitary function? ›

Tips for pituitary gland health
  1. eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which are great sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  2. choosing good sources of fats, such as those that contain omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats.
  3. opting for whole grains over refined grains.
  4. reducing sodium intake.

Does Covid vaccine affect pituitary gland? ›

There has been an increasing number of reported thrombocytopenia, bleeding, and arterial and venous thromboses cases occurring within days to weeks after the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine [9]. Such conditions could possibly trigger pituitary apoplexy.

How does the pituitary gland affect behavior? ›

It has been documented that clinical depression and anxiety are common with pituitary disorders. Some patients report memory and mental confusion, anger and/or rage and even changes in a patient's overall sense and awareness of themselves.

What are the two types of pituitary tumors? ›

By this measure, there are two types of pituitary adenomas. Pituitary tumors that are smaller than 1 centimeter are called microadenomas, and those larger than 1 centimeter are called macroadenomas. Most pituitary adenomas are microadenomas. They are typically functional tumors, meaning they secrete hormones.

Can a pituitary tumor affect memory? ›

Many studies have shown that patients with pituitary problems are more likely to have problems with memory, concentration and attention than patients with other medical conditions.

Does a neurologist treat pituitary tumors? ›

Treating a pituitary tumor requires a team of specialists including a neurologist, neurosurgeon, endocrinologist, radiation oncologist and medical oncologist. Treatment options may include a combination of observation, medication, surgery and radiation therapy.

Is a pituitary tumor serious? ›

These tumors are called benign because they don't spread to other parts of the body, like cancers can. Still, even benign pituitary tumors can cause major health problems because they are close to the brain, may invade nearby tissues (like the skull or the sinuses), and because many of them make excess hormones.

How long can you live with a pituitary tumor? ›

The 5-year survival rate for people with a pituitary gland tumor is 97%. Survival rates depend on the type of tumor, the person's age, and other factors. It is important to remember that statistics on survival rates for people with a pituitary gland tumor are an estimate.

Is a pituitary tumor a brain tumor? ›

A tumor that develops in the pituitary gland is typically considered to be a type of brain cancer. The pituitary gland, which is responsible for producing and releasing hormones into the body, is located inside the skull, just beneath the brain and above the nasal passages.

Who treats pituitary disorders? ›

Endocrinologists – doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of pituitary tumors and other disorders of the pituitary gland.

What doctor checks pituitary gland? ›

Referral to an endocrinologist (a consultant who specialises in hormones) If your GP suspects a pituitary problem, he/she should refer you to an endocrinologist for further investigations. It is very important and we strongly recommend that you be referred to an endocrinologist who specialises in pituitary conditions.

Can blood test detect pituitary tumor? ›

To diagnose functional pituitary adenomas, doctors may run blood tests or other diagnostic tests to look for abnormally high amounts of: adrenocortisol (ACTH) and cortisol. growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) prolactin.

What foods heal the pituitary gland? ›

Diet for healthy Pituitary gland

Important nutrients for good pituitary function are a variety of minerals- especially manganese, magnesium, and vitamin E. Foods rich in minerals are wheat, leafy greens, nuts and some legumes. Other important nutrients are iron and iodine.

Can the pituitary gland repair itself? ›

Sometimes the pituitary will heal itself after brain injury, and patients will only require hormone replacement for a few months. Some, however, will need to use it for the rest of their life.

How long does it take to heal pituitary gland? ›

It can take up to 6 weeks to fully recover. The cuts the doctor made (incisions) may be sore for about 5 days after surgery. You may also have numbness and shooting pains near your wound, or swelling and bruising around your eyes.

Does pituitary gland affect sleep? ›

The pituitary gland plays a crucial role in the regulation of sleep and the stress response, and its dysfunction leads to sleep-related disorders.

Does brain MRI show pituitary gland? ›

An MRI uses strong magnets to make pictures of the pituitary gland.

Can an eye doctor see a pituitary tumor? ›

Did you know that regular eye exams, even if you do not wear glasses or contacts, can help discover eye conditions like a pituitary tumor, also known as a pituitary adenoma, before you even start to have symptoms? Watching out for pituitary tumors is only one reason you should have an annual eye exam.

Can a CT scan detect pituitary tumor? ›

A CT scan uses x-rays to create detailed cross-sectional images of part of your body. CT scans can find a pituitary adenoma if it's large enough, but MRI scans are used much more often to look at the brain and pituitary gland.

Does the pituitary gland affect blood sugar levels? ›

Pituitary hormones play an integral role in controlling glucose metabolism. There are diseases like acromegaly and Cushing's disease which are overtly associated with diabetes. Emerging evidence suggests that prolactin, vasopressin and oxytocin also exert a subtle physiological role in glucose homeostasis.

How do they do surgery on the pituitary gland? ›

The ENT surgeon works through the nostrils with a tiny camera and light called an endoscope. In both techniques, bony openings are made in the nasal septum, sphenoid sinus, and sella to reach the pituitary. Once the pituitary is exposed, the neurosurgeon removes the tumor.

What happens if your pituitary gland dies? ›

Symptoms. The most common symptoms include sudden severe headache with nausea and vomiting, double vision or loss of vision, change in mental status, loss of eye muscle control, and meningismus (symptoms associated with irritation of the brain and spinal cord).

What are 5 emotional signs of stress? ›

Warnings signs of stress in adults may include:
  • Crying spells or bursts of anger.
  • Difficulty eating.
  • Losing interest in daily activities.
  • Increasing physical distress symptoms such as headaches or stomach pains.
  • Fatigue.
  • Feeling guilty, helpless, or hopeless.
  • Avoiding family and friends.
16 May 2022

How fast do pituitary tumors grow? ›

Most pituitary tumors are slow growing, approximately 1-3mm/year.

Can a person live without a pituitary gland? ›

You can live without your pituitary gland as long as you take medication to replace the pituitary hormones that you're missing. The pituitary gland hormones are very important for maintaining several bodily functions. An untreated lack of all the pituitary hormones is life-threatening.

What herbs are good for the pituitary gland? ›

Herbs that support the pituitary gland include Chaste Tree, and Sarsaparilla. The adrenal gland produces the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone; but too much or too little at the wrong time can cause problems such as anxiety and depression.

What supplements stimulate the pituitary gland? ›

Here are some good vitamins and supplements for the pituitary gland:
  • Vitamin A. Promotes the release of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which helps in weight loss.
  • Vitamin D. Promotes proper sexual functionality through the pituitary gland.
  • Vitamin E. ...
  • Manganese. ...
  • Milk Thistle.
31 Jan 2018

What is pituitary apoplexy symptoms? ›

Pituitary apoplexy usually has a short period of symptoms (acute), which can be life threatening. Symptoms often include: Severe headache (worst of your life) Paralysis of the eye muscles, causing double vision (ophthalmoplegia) or problems opening an eyelid.

How do you test for prolactin levels? ›

A lab worker will insert a needle into a vein in your arm to take out a small amount of blood. Some people feel just a little sting. Others might feel moderate pain and see slight bruising afterwards. After a few days, you'll get the results of your prolactin test in the form of a number.

Why is my prolactin so high? ›

Prolactin levels are normally high for pregnant women and new mothers. Levels are normally low for nonpregnant women and for men. If prolactin levels are higher than normal, it often means there is a type of tumor of the pituitary gland, known as a prolactinoma. This tumor makes the gland produce too much prolactin.

What happens if pituitary gland stops working? ›

Hypopituitarism is an underactive pituitary gland that results in deficiency of one or more pituitary hormones. Symptoms of hypopituitarism depend on what hormone is deficient and may include short height, infertility, intolerance to cold, fatigue, and an inability to produce breast milk.

Can pituitary gland cause personality changes? ›

In addition, patients with pituitary diseases may experience many emotional problems, including depression, anxiety, behavioral disturbances, and personality changes, above and beyond the many reactions these patients may have to the myriad of adjustments that they must make in their lives.

Can a pituitary tumor cause mental illness? ›

Pituitary tumors, may manifest initially as a psychiatric disturbance, such as depression, anxiety, apathy, panic attack, sleep disturbance, emotional distress, personality change, or cognitive impairment.

How do you test for pituitary gland problems? ›

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or high-resolution computerized tomography (CT) of your brain can detect a pituitary tumor or other pituitary gland problems.

How do I know if my pituitary gland is working properly? ›

How is an underactive pituitary gland diagnosed? If your doctor thinks you may have hypopituitarism, they will use a blood test to check your levels of the hormones the pituitary gland produces. They may also check for hormones your pituitary gland stimulates other glands to release.

How is pituitary disorder diagnosed? ›

Hormone testing is crucial for diagnosing pituitary tumors. For some people, a small pituitary tumor does not cause symptoms. The only way to diagnose it is by studying your hormones. Dynamic endocrine testing is a series of special blood tests that help your endocrinologist rule out other conditions.

What blood tests are done for pituitary gland? ›

Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) blood levels can be checked to see if you have a gonadotropin-secreting tumor. Levels of related hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, are often checked as well.

Who treats pituitary disorders? ›

Endocrinologists – doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of pituitary tumors and other disorders of the pituitary gland.

Can the pituitary gland be repaired? ›

Recent studies in the pituitary gland have demonstrated that although cell turnover is normally low, pituitary stem cells do exist and can regenerate pituitary endocrine cell types in response to physiological stressors (6, 7).

Can blood test detect pituitary tumor? ›

To diagnose functional pituitary adenomas, doctors may run blood tests or other diagnostic tests to look for abnormally high amounts of: adrenocortisol (ACTH) and cortisol. growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) prolactin.

How does the pituitary gland affect behavior? ›

It has been documented that clinical depression and anxiety are common with pituitary disorders. Some patients report memory and mental confusion, anger and/or rage and even changes in a patient's overall sense and awareness of themselves.

Does Covid vaccine affect pituitary gland? ›

There has been an increasing number of reported thrombocytopenia, bleeding, and arterial and venous thromboses cases occurring within days to weeks after the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine [9]. Such conditions could possibly trigger pituitary apoplexy.

How can I improve my pituitary function? ›

Tips for pituitary gland health
  1. eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which are great sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  2. choosing good sources of fats, such as those that contain omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats.
  3. opting for whole grains over refined grains.
  4. reducing sodium intake.

What happens if the pituitary gland stops working? ›

Hypopituitarism is an underactive pituitary gland that results in deficiency of one or more pituitary hormones. Symptoms of hypopituitarism depend on what hormone is deficient and may include short height, infertility, intolerance to cold, fatigue, and an inability to produce breast milk.

How successful is pituitary surgery? ›

Survival: Pituitary Surgery

Both the 30- and 180-day survival rates following pituitary surgery were 100% for 2021.

Does pituitary gland show on brain MRI? ›

An MRI uses strong magnets to make pictures of the pituitary gland.

Can an eye test detect pituitary tumor? ›

During a visual field test, if a patient struggles to see the dots of light at either side, or pressure is detected on the optic nerves, it may indicate a pituitary tumour. They should be referred to a hospital ophthalmologist, and then for an MRI scan and an appointment with an endocrinologist.

How do they do surgery on the pituitary gland? ›

The ENT surgeon works through the nostrils with a tiny camera and light called an endoscope. In both techniques, bony openings are made in the nasal septum, sphenoid sinus, and sella to reach the pituitary. Once the pituitary is exposed, the neurosurgeon removes the tumor.

Does the pituitary gland affect blood sugar levels? ›

Pituitary hormones play an integral role in controlling glucose metabolism. There are diseases like acromegaly and Cushing's disease which are overtly associated with diabetes. Emerging evidence suggests that prolactin, vasopressin and oxytocin also exert a subtle physiological role in glucose homeostasis.

Videos

1. Pituitary tumors: Symptoms and treatments
(Prisma Health)
2. Symptoms of pituitary gland disorder - Dr. Anantharaman Ramakrishnan
(Doctors' Circle World's Largest Health Platform)
3. Endocrine Emergencies - Thyroid & Pituitary Disorders
(The Resuscitationist)
4. Pituitary Disorders 1
(Charlotte Barker)
5. Pituitary Disorders - What You Need To Know
(Rehealthify)
6. PITUITARY GLAND DISORDERS
(DENTISTRY ’N MORE)

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