What are the symptoms of pituitary disorders?

Anthony P. Heaney, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Symptoms of pituitary disorders vary widely depending on whether there is a mass lesion in the pituitary gland, such as a tumor or cyst, or if there is simply dysfunction of the gland itself. Symptoms and signs can occur due to either a lack of or excess of the hormones the pituitary gland usually produces. Symptoms of pituitary disorders can include the following:
  • various types of headache
  • visual disturbances with loss of peripheral vision, given the confined space and close proximity of the pituitary to the visual nerve tracts
  • absent periods in women and reduced libido and energy in men due to lack of sex steroids
  • fatigue and in severe cases dizziness due to underactive thyroid and/or adrenal function
  • increased urination and thirst with disturbed sodium levels caused by lack of anti-diuretic hormone from the posterior region of the pituitary gland
  • menstrual disturbances in women, reduced libido in men and breast milk secretion in either sex due to abundance of prolactin
  • acromegaly due to excess growth hormone
  • cushing disease due to excess adrenocorticotropic hormone

The symptoms of pituitary disorders depend on what type of hormone is affected by the condition. The pituitary, a small gland at the base of the skull, determines the production of hormones in the body. The pituitary gland usually malfunctions because of a non-cancerous tumor. A tumor can make the pituitary produce either too much of a certain hormone or too little. Common symptoms of pituitary disorders include loss of vision, fatigue, weakness, headaches, nausea, sexual dysfunction, or weight gain or loss.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.