Have you ever noticed children who have suddenly grown abnormally in size? You might have seen a sudden increase in the physical stature of children and their anatomical features. This disease is known as gigantism. If you have seen someone suffering from this disease, you can read to get the full details of this disease.
What is Gigantism?
Gigantism refers to a particular growth defect, a condition which is characterized by an abnormal linear growth of the body, significantly above the normal one due to the over production of the growth hormone in the body. It is also known as the Exomphalos Macroglossia gigantism syndrome.
Gigantism refers to an abnormal growth condition which originates during infancy, and shows itself through an abnormal increase in physical size and stature due to the excess of growth hormone.
The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain, and it is the root cause behind this disease. A hypothalamic condition, caused due to the excess activity of the pituitary gland overproduces the growth hormone, and this leads to gigantism. An adenoma of pituitary gland also causes this disease
Gigantism Hormone Involved
The hormone involved in this disease is the growth hormone gigantism. This hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland of the body. It is an essential hormone as it leads to the normal growth of the body. However excess of this hormone is harmful as it leads to gigantism.
It is not necessary that gigantism may always occur in humans. It may also occur in other animals, i.e. animal gigantism or mammary gigantism is also possible. For example, Island gigantism is a phenomenon in which there is an increase in the size of animals that are isolated in an island, as compared to their other relatives.
One of the major symptoms that clearly explain that the disease is gigantism is the excessive increase in the height and muscles of the child. The child appears too big for his present age. Some of the other symptoms which clearly denote the occurring of this disease are:
- Delay in puberty
- Excessive growth
- Peripheral vision
- Enlargement of soft body tissues
- Reduction in the production of hormones by the testes
- Reduction in the production of hormone by the ovaries
- Increase in perspiration
- Tall stature
- Irregularity in menstruation
- Thickening of facial features
- Late in closure of epiphyses
- Double vision
Gigantism is a birth defect, and it’s most important and nearest cause is the release of growth hormone from the noncancerous tumor of the pituitary gland of the body. . Apart from this, there are certain other causes that lead to this disease. The main causes of gigantism includes the following:
- Multiple endoctine neoplasia Type 1 (MEN-1)
- Carney complex
- McCune Albright Syndrome (MAS)
- Pituatory Tumor
- Weaver Syndrome
- Cortcal Hyperostosis
- Simpson Dysmorphia
- Beckwith Wiedemann Syndrome
- Cerebral Giagantism in the childhood
- Polyostotic fibrous dysplasia
Facts About Gigantism
Here is some very interesting and true gigantism information.
- Gigantism is a natural condition and it occurs without any prior intimation to anyone. The person concerned nay not be indulged in any activity that results in this disease, yet, he may be a victim of it.
- The growth is abrupt and extreme.
- There in continuous increase in the tumor of the pituitary, and this leads to a loss in the hormones.
- The loss of hormones may also be harmful as it may be related to the reproductive glands.
Gigantism basically leads to an increase in the physical size and stature of the child eo is infected with this disease. But this is not the end of it. Gigantism has many other effects also, and most of them are negative. It leads to retardation of the mind. It also causes certain other problems which affect the pituitary gland too. Its octeroide may have a long term effect on the pituitary gigantism. It may lead to an analgesic effect on the mind and the body. The most harmful effect of gigantism is the occurrence of a correlated disease called Acromegaly.the effects of gigantism on other body parts are as follows:
Gigantism and Acromegaly are almost synonymous diseases. Acromegaly is also a disorder that results from the over secretion of growth hormone from the body. It is also a similar syndrome that occurs due to excess of the growth hormone. The only difference is that when there is excess production of growth hormone from the body during the childhood, it results in gigantism. However if the similar condition occurs in an adult, then the condition is Acromegaly.
The excessive production of the growth hormone is always caused by the pituitary hormone. Acromegaly occurs in an adult, therefore a person of normal person, with a normal stature, suddenly gains height. It is a same disorder and it occurs after the fusion of the growth cartilage in the adult. Its symptoms and causes are similar to that of gigantism. The treatment procedure and diagnosis are also similar.
The size of the penis due to over secretion of the growth hormone is subjective from individual to individual. It also depends on the timing. If a person has a hyper active pituitary gland, which secretes the growth hormone in excess in adulthood, then, the penis will not increase in size any further. If this disease occurs in childhood, then the penis increases beyond the normal limit and reaches an abnormal size. Penile Gigantism is not compulsory. It is not essential that all types of muscles have the power to grow.
Cerebral gigantism is also known as Sotos Syndrome. It is a genetic disorder, which occurs rarely, and is manifested by excessive physical growth during the initial 2 to 3 years of life. It is often accompanied by a sort of mental retardation, delay in social development and cognitive ability in the child, a low muscle tone, and impairment in speech. The individuals suffer from a disproportionate growth with a large head and protruding forehead.
Gigantism leads to enlargement of the breast beyond the normal size. There may also occur breast vasculitis along with breast gigantism.
It is a condition in which there is an enlargement of a certain body part. Only a certain part of the body acquires a larger size, due to an excessive growth of anatomical features of the body. It occurs in the toes and fingers. There may be cases when the entire limb may be enlarged. It is also known as localized gigantism.
Gigantism Risk Factors
Gigantism is a disease that has several associated risk factors with it. There are certain diseases that occur due to this disease. Some of them are:
McCune Albright Syndrome – It is a disorder that shows abnormalities in the development of bone and skin pigmentation.
Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) – A genetic disorder, which occurs due to the formation of a tumor due to an overactive endocrine gland.
Gigantism Life Expectancy
Gigantism does lead to a decrease in the normal span of the person. The patient may not for a long time. However, the exact age cannot be predicted, as it usually varies from person to person.
Dwarfism and Gigantism
Both dwarfism and gigantism is a result of exposure to the growth hormone. An undersecretion leads to dwarfism, and oversecretion leads to gigantism. It is like a situation of underdevelopment and overdevelopment. Dwarfism is a condition in which the individual who are abnormally short and their body proportions are very short due to disturbances in the bone growth.
It is very important to diagnose this condition correctly and at the right time, so that you can take the proper medication and proper treatment procedures. The mehods by which you can diagnose this condition are:
- Taking a CT scan of the head or an MRI scan that shows the pituitary tumor.
- Diagnosis of the prolactin levels of the body
- Increase in the insulin levels
The diagnosis can be verified by a blood test indicating a high level of insulin level in the body. The level of growth hormone fluctuates in the body; therefore a single level is not enough to diagnose the problem. So, it is necessary for the doctors to suppress the level of growth hormone by giving a glucose drink to the patient.
The diagnosis may also be carried out by a computed tomography (CT) or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the patient so as to check the level of abnormal growth n the pituitary gland.
The most effective way of removing a pituitary tumor is through surgery. Surgery can be used for those tumors which have a well defined border. If it is not possible to surgically remove the tumor, then the patient has to resort to medication. Some of the other ways of treatment for gigantism include consumption of medicinesmedicines like Somatostatin, octeroide, and lareotide reduce the release of growth hormone.
Another effective way of bringing the growth hormone to a normal level is through radiation therapy. However, it takes a long time to completely control the over production of growth hormone. Doctors also prescribe the usage of Dopamine Agonists to reduce this hormone level. The ultimate method to control this hormone, and ultimately gigantism is surgery.
This disease can sometimes be reduced with a pituitary surgery. Pituitary surgery can be used to limit the secretion of the growth hormone.
You can take a look at these images of gigantism, to get an idea of its effect on the various body organs.
Gigantism is definitely a very dangerous disease as the growth condition is not just abnormal, but unhealthy as well. The patient should seek medical help to get cured of this disease.