Acromegaly and gigantism: is there a difference?

Is acromegaly and gigantism the same?

Acromegaly and gigantism are two medical conditions of abnormal growth due to excessive production of growth hormones. They are often confused with each other, however, there are key differences between the two.

What is Acromegaly?

Acromegaly is a condition that results from the excessive production of growth hormone by the pituitary gland, typically after the person has reached their physical mature age. This condition occurs most often in adults in their thirties or forties. The overproduction of growth hormone causes enlargement of the hands and feet, thickening of the skin, and enlargement of the facial features such as the forehead, nose, and jaw. The excess growth hormone in the body can also cause joint pain, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, and fatigue.

Other symptoms can include excessive sweating, thickening of the tongue, low blood sugar, and low sex drive. Acromegaly can be treated with medications, surgery, radiation therapy, and lifestyle changes.

What is Gigantism?

Gigantism is a rare condition that occurs when the pituitary gland produces excessive growth hormone during childhood prior to the completion of physical growth. It is typically diagnosed in children before the age of ten. It causes excessive growth of the limbs and the other parts of the body. It can cause a person to be taller and heavier than normal, and can cause progressive enlargement of facial features and hands and feet.

The excess growth hormone can cause weak bones, impaired vision, delayed puberty, and increased thirst and urination. Treatment for gigantism usually includes medications, surgery, and radiation therapy.

In summary, acromegaly and gigantism are two distinct medical conditions caused by excessive production of growth hormones. Acromegaly occurs after the person has reached physical maturity, while gigantism occurs during childhood during physical growth. Treatment for both conditions may include medications, surgery, and radiation therapy.

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