The pituitary gland is commonly referred to as the "master gland." The gland is the size of a pea and is located at the base of the brain. For such a small gland, the pituitary releases hormones that have effects on several other glands throughout the entire body. Because of the wide scope of body functions it controls, the pituitary is thought to be an essential gland in the entire endocrine system. The hormones released by the pituitary control bone and muscle tissue growth, stimulate the reproductive system and assist the thyroid and other glands in maintaining the body's metabolism.
If the pituitary gland becomes diseased or damaged, the symptoms may begin to appear in a relatively short amount of time. The severity of the symptoms will often indicate the severity of the problem. A few of the most common symptoms for pituitary disease are a lack of appetite, extreme fatigue, weakness, low blood sugar levels, vomiting, nausea, low blood pressure levels, weight gain, intolerance to cold temperatures, and heavy menstrual periods. Although some of the symptoms may not seem serious or evident, they still have the potential to be harmful. A diseased or damaged pituitary gland disrupts the gland's ability to produce hormones and should be evaluated as soon as possible.
Hormone replacement therapy can be used to help maintain proper endocrine balance within the body. Once the pituitary hormone balance is reestablished, the imbalances in other areas of the body will return to normal. In some cases, especially if a tumor is present, surgery may be needed to remove the diseased tissue. Much like with thyroid issues, radiation can also be used to kill all or part of the gland in an attempt to restore balance. An endocrinologist can perform tests to determine what types of hormones are out of balance and then take appropriate measures to help patients regain their health either through the use of HRT or other treatment options geared toward strengthening the gland and making it work more efficiently.
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