The pituitary gland is a small, pea-sized gland at the base of the brain—located just above a sinus at the back of the nose. The pituitary gland produces several hormones and controls the release of others throughout the body. These hormones affect many of the body’s processes, including growth, thyroid function, and stress response.
Sometimes the pituitary gland grows tumors. While most are benign they can cause significant problems. Some produce far too much of a single hormone, which can be very harmful, even deadly. Some pituitary tumors push on the normal gland so much that the gland stops making needed hormones. Furthermore, some tumors grow large enough that they can push on, and harm, other brain structures, particularly the eye nerves leading to blindness.
Rarely pituitary tumors can bleed into themselves and cause severe headache, passing out, problems with eye movement, and rapidly progressive blindness. This is a condition that requires emergent evaluation and often emergent surgery.
While some pituitary gland tumors produce no symptoms at all, more typical symptoms include:
- Visual Loss
- Difficulty moving the eyes/ double vision
- Hormonal symptoms, including:
- Leaking from the breast
- Changes in weight
- Generalized weakness
- Loss of hair on head and body
- Changes in sexual drive
- Skin changes
- Excessive body hair
- Stopping of menstruation