Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder caused by excessive production of growth hormone by the pituitary gland in adults. Unlike in children, where excessive growth hormone leads to gigantism and increased height, adults with acromegaly do not experience a significant change in their overall height. When this occurs, the bones in the body, particularly in the hands, feet, and face, undergo enlargement.

Due to the gradual progression of physical changes associated with acromegaly, diagnosing the condition can sometimes be challenging and may take considerable time. If left untreated, elevated levels of growth hormone can affect not only the bones but also other body parts, potentially leading to severe health complications, some of which may be life-threatening. However, with appropriate treatment, symptoms can be significantly improved, including the excessive growth of facial features, and the risk of complications can be reduced.


A common manifestation of acromegaly is the enlargement of hands and feet. This can be observed when previously well-fitting rings become tight or no longer fit at all, and when there is a gradual increase in shoe size over time.

Acromegaly can also result in gradual changes to the appearance of your face, such as a protruding lower jaw and brow bone, a widened space between teeth, thicker lips, and a larger nose.

Early signs of acromegaly may not become apparent for years because of its tendency to progress slowly. Sometimes, people can only detect bodily changes by contrasting older and more recent images.

In general, the signs and symptoms of acromegaly might vary from person to person and may include any of the following:

  • The hands and feet appear to be bigger
  • Increase in the size of the facial bones, nose, lips, and tongue
  • Skin that is thickened, coarse and oily.
  • Excessive sweating
  • Excessive body smell
  • Skin tags
  • Weakness of the muscle or joint and tiredness
  • Joint pain and restricted movement
  • Headaches that may be severe or chronic
  • Abnormalities in women’s menstrual cycles
  • Male erectile dysfunction
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • A deeper, husky voice brought on by larger sinuses and vocal cords
  • Excessive snoring as a result of an upper airway obstruction
  • Problems with eyesight

Contact your doctor to schedule an examination if you experience the acromegaly-related signs and symptoms.

Acromegaly typically takes time to develop. Even your family members might not first recognize the slow physical changes that this condition causes. However, an early diagnosis is crucial so you can begin receiving the right care. If untreated, acromegaly can cause major health issues.


When the pituitary gland consistently and excessively produces growth hormone (GH), acromegaly develops.

At the base of your brain, behind the bridge of your nose, is a little gland called the pituitary gland. It makes GH as well as several other hormones. GH is crucial in controlling your physical development.

IGF-1, also known as insulin-like growth factor-I or IGF-I, is a hormone that your liver produces in response to the pituitary gland’s release of GH into your bloodstream. Your bones and other tissues grow as a result of IGF-I. Too much GH causes too much IGF-1, which can result in the signs, symptoms, and problems of acromegaly.

The most frequent factor resulting in excessive GH production in adults is a tumor:

  • Pituitary tumors. Most cases of acromegaly are caused by the presence of benign tumors known as pituitary adenomas. These tumors play a significant role in the development of acromegaly symptoms due to their excessive production of growth hormone. The signs and symptoms experienced by individuals with acromegaly, such as headaches and vision problems, are primarily a result of the tumor exerting pressure on nearby areas of the brain.
  • Nonpituitary tumors. In rare cases, acromegaly can be caused by tumors originating from organs such as the pancreas or lungs. These tumors have the ability to release growth hormone (GH) into the bloodstream. Alternatively, the some tumors can stimulate the pituitary gland to increase GH production by releasing a hormone called growth hormone-releasing hormone (GH-RH). This abnormal interaction between tumors and the hormonal system can lead to the development of acromegaly.