The pituitary gland is a small pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain and is the “master gland” of the endocrine system. Its function is to control the production of a variety of hormones that affect growth and other bodily functions. These hormones stimulate other glands like the adrenal, thyroid and reproductive glands.
Many of the conditions that affect the pituitary gland are congenital, meaning they occur at birth. There are some that evolve over time or the symptoms are noticed over months or years. Other pituitary problems are related to tumors. Fortunately, 99 percent of pituitary-related tumors, referred to as pituitary adenomas, are benign. Pituitary adenomas are classified as functioning and non-functioning.
Functioning adenomas also known as secretory tumors are those that produce too much hormone. Non-functioning adenomas, or non-secretory tumors, do not affect hormone production.
As with many types of tumors, not all pituitary adenomas affect normal activities but as a tumor grows, it may cause a variety of conditions.
Pituitary disorders cause a range of symptoms that may develop over time. Functioning or non-functioning adenomas typically cause symptoms due to the following:
While symptoms may vary, the most common ones include: