An acromegaly patient with enlarged hands

Acromegaly Symptoms

Acromegaly is a rare disorder in adults that causes the pituitary gland to produce too much growth hormone. This disorder is marked by enlarged hands, feet, and facial features. However, because of the slow progression of acromegaly, sometimes the early signs of the disease may not be noticeable for several years.

Often, comparing old photographs is the only way that someone with acromegaly will be able to tell a difference in their appearance. Another indicator would be if you notice that you are continuously outgrowing rings or shoes that used to fit.

Besides enlarged hands and feet, there are also other symptoms that typically indicate acromegaly. These include:

  • Coarsened facial features: Acromegaly can cause you to experience gradual changes to the shape of your face. This can include a protruding lower jaw, protruding brow bone, enlarged nose, wider spacing between your teeth, and thickened lips.

  • Thickened skin: It is also common for acromegaly to cause your skin to become coarse, oily, and gradually thicker than is normal.

  • Severe snoring: People with acromegaly will often snore while sleeping due to partial obstruction of the upper airways.

  • Menstrual cycle irregularities: Women with acromegaly may experience some irregularities with their menstrual cycle.

  • Erectile dysfunction: Men with acromegaly may experience some difficulties in this area.

  • Deepened voice: If you have acromegaly, your voice may become deepened and husky because of the enlarged sinuses and vocal chords.

  • Barrel chest: Acromegaly may also cause the size of your chest to become enlarged.

  • Enlarged organs: Acromegaly can also affect other organs in your body, such as your liver, heart, kidneys, spleen, and others.

  • Excessive sweating: This condition can lead to sweating, resulting body odor as well.

  • Joint pain: The pain caused by acromegaly can also lead to limited mobility in the joints.

  • Skin tags: Acromegaly can also cause small growths of skin tissue to develop on different parts of the body.

Your family members may not even be able to notice some of the gradual developments that occur if you have acromegaly. However, diagnosing this condition as early as possible is key to receiving proper treatment. If this condition goes completely unnoticed and is never treated, it can lead to very serious complications.

Acromegaly is usually caused by a tumor that is causing your pituitary gland to overproduce growth hormones. The tumor may or may not be cancerous, which is why it is important to get a clear diagnosis as soon as possible. Usually, the tumor will need to be removed, whether it is cancerous or not. If the tumor is cancerous, your doctor will need to make sure that the cancer has not spread to other parts of your body as well.

If you or anyone you know begins to notice any of the signs and symptoms associated with acromegaly, make sure to contact your doctor as soon as possible to schedule an evaluation. Diagnosing acromegaly is a fairly simple process, as long as your doctor is aware that the testing is necessary based on your symptoms. 

Last Updated: January 19, 2016