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Hypopituitary Overview

Hypopituitarism is a condition in which the pituitary gland (a small gland at the base of the brain) does not produce one or more of its hormones or not enough of them. This condition may occur because of disease in the pituitary or hypothalamus (a part of the brain that contains hormones that control the pituitary gland). When there is low or no production of all the pituitary hormones, the condition is called panhypopituitarism. This condition may affect either children or adults.

The pituitary gland sends signals to other glands (eg, thyroid gland) to produce hormones (eg, thyroid hormone). The hormones produced by the pituitary gland and other glands have a significant impact on the body’s functions, such as growth, reproduction, blood pressure, and metabolism (the physical and chemical processes of the body). When one or more of these hormones is not produced properly, the body’s normal functions can be affected. Some of the hormones like cortisol and thyroid hormone may require prompt treatment, whereas others may not be life threatening.

The pituitary gland produces several hormones. Some of the important hormones are as follows:

In hypopituitarism, one or more of these pituitary hormones is missing. The lack of hormone results in a loss of function of the gland or organ that it controls.

Hypopituitary Causes

A loss of function of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus results in low or absent hormones. Tumors can cause damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus and can therefore result in a loss of function. Damage to the pituitary gland can also be caused by radiation, surgery, infections (eg, meningitis), or various other conditions. In some cases, the cause is unknown.

Hypopituitary Symptoms

When to Seek Medical Care

Call the doctor or health care practitioner if any symptoms develop.

Exams and Tests

The doctor or health care practitioner may perform blood tests to determine which hormone level is low and to rule out other causes. The following tests may be performed:

Hypopituitary Treatment

Next Steps

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