Hypopituitarism: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

The symptoms of hypopituitarism result from decreased hormone production by the pituitary gland. When all the pituitary hormones are affected, the condition is known as panhypopituitarism. Isolated or partial hypopituitarism results when the production of one or more hormones is decreased. The symptoms are variable and depend on the severity of the condition and the number of hormones that are affected. Symptoms can include

Women may experience irregular menstrual cycles, loss of menstruation (amenorrhea), infertility, and the inability to produce milk. Infertility can affect males, as well as a reduction in hair on the face or body. Hypopituitarism in children can lead to short stature and delayed growth and development. Other symptoms and signs include

Causes of hypopituitarism

Hypopituitarism has many causes. Any condition that damages the pituitary gland or the area of the brain known as the hypothalamus (which regulates the pituitary gland's function) can cause the pituitary to decrease hormone production. A pituitary tumor is sometimes the cause of hypopituitarism. Other causes can include surgery or trauma to the brain, including stroke, radiation treatment, infections of the brain, loss of blood during childbirth (Sheehan syndrome), genetic conditions that result in impaired pituitary hormone production, autoimmune inflammation of the pituitary gland, and so-called infiltrative diseases, in which abnormal cells of the immune response or abnormal substances accumulate in the gland. Sarcoidosis is an example of an infiltrative disease that can cause hypopituitarism.

REFERENCES:

Corenblum, Bernard. "Hypopituitarism." Medscape.com. Mar. 16, 2017. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/122287-overview>.

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/6/2017

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