by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Acromegaly is a rare disorder caused by an excess of growth hormone (GH). GH controls the growth of soft tissue and bone. Too much GH results in bones and tissues that increase in size.
Young children are still growing. Excess GH can cause a similar health problem called gigantism. This causes dramatic growth in children.
This problem happens when the pituitary gland in the brain makes too much GH. This may happen due to:
This problem often starts around 45 years of age. Rarely, family history may increase the risk of this problem.
Symptoms usually start slowly over time.
In children, the bones grow longer and cause soft tissue swelling. If not treated, children can grow to a height of 7 to 8 feet.
Problems in adults may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
You will have blood tests.
Images may be taken of the body. This can be done with:
The goals of treatment are to reduce GH levels and ease symptoms. Choices are:
There are no current guidelines to prevent acromegaly.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Pituitary Network Association
Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Acromegaly. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acromegaly. Accessed October 29, 2020.
Katznelson L, Atkinson JL, et al; American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists medical guidelines for clinical practice for the diagnosis and treatment of acromegaly - 2011 update. Endocr Pract. 2011 Jul-Aug;17 Suppl 4:1-44.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 4/28/2021
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.