The pituitary is a gland about the size of a pea that is joined to the base of the brain. It is found behind the nose and the sphenoid sinus (air space behind the face), right below another important and related structure called the hypothalamus.
A gland is an organ that makes and releases special substances, such as hormones, that act on other organs and tissues to make them work. The pituitary is called the "master gland" because its hormones regulate the balance of hormones made by most of the other glands in the body. This way, the pituitary controls many processes, such as growth, development, and reproduction. It also controls the function of certain organs, such as the kidneys, breasts, and uterus.
The pituitary has three parts or lobes, each with its own job in the body. The front lobe, the anterior pituitary, makes up about 80% of the gland and is found closest to the front of the head. Its job is to make and release many "signaling" hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones move through the blood to other glands and organs, where they signal the organs and glands to start or stop working.
The intermediary lobe secretes only one hormone. This hormone affects skin pigmentation.
The back part of the gland, the posterior pituitary, does not make any hormones itself. Instead, it contains nerve endings of brain cells that come from the hypothalamus. These brain cells make the hormones, which then move down to and are stored in the posterior pituitary for later use.
The hypothalamus and the pituitary work hand-in-hand. The hypothalamus makes hormones that, in turn, signal the pituitary to release its hormones.
WHAT IS A PITUITARY ADENOMA?
A pituitary adenoma is a growth or tumor on the pituitary. Most pituitary adenomas are slow-growing and benign, which means they are not cancer and do not spread to other parts of the body. However, as they grow big they can put pressure on nearby structures, such as the nerves that connect the eyes to the brain, and cause symptoms. This is known as the “mass effect.”
A large adenoma can also crush normal pituitary cells and keep them from working properly, leading to a condition called hypopituitarism. This condition can cause low blood pressure, tiredness, and changes in your sex drive and function. It can also make you feel less able to manage stress.
TYPES OF PITUTARY ADENOMA
Pituitary adenomas are labeled based on their size.
1.PITUTARY MICROADENOMATumors smaller than 1 cm are called microadenomas
2.PITUTARY MACROADENOMA Tumors bigger than 1 cm are called macroadenomas
Many adenomas cause symptoms by releasing extra hormones into the bloodstream, but not all adenomas make hormones.
Some, called non-functioning or null cell adenomas, do not make hormones. About one-third of all pituitary tumors are non-functioning adenomas. They usually become large and are found because they cause symptoms due to the mass effect.
HOW COMMON ARE PITUITARY ADENOMAS?
Pituitary adenomas make up 10% to 15% of all tumors that develop within the skull. They are found in about 77 out of 100,000 people, although it is believed that they actually occur in as many as 20% of people at some point in their lives. However, many pituitary adenomas, especially microadenomas, do not cause serious symptoms and are never found. Macroadenomas are about twice as common as microadenomas. Pituitary adenomas can occur at any age, but are more common in people in their 30s or 40s. They are rarely found in those younger than 20. Women get adenomas more often than men.
CAUSES OF PITUITARY ADENOMAS
The exact cause of pituitary adenomas is not known. However, some have been linked to accidental changes in DNA, the material within a cell that makes up our genes. (Genes are the directions for making the proteins that control a cell's function.) These changes cause the cells in the pituitary to be abnormal and grow out of control, making a tumor. The changes can be passed down from parents to their children (heredity), but usually happen on their own sometime during a person's life.
SYMPTOMS OF PITUITARY ADENOMAS
The symptoms of pituitary adenomas vary depending on the type of hormone released by the tumor or its mass effect on nearby structures. Having too many hormones can lead to certain disorders or syndromes, including:
- Gigantism in children and acromegaly in adults from too much growth hormone (GH)
- Cushing’s disease from too much adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which triggers the adrenal glands to make steroid hormones
- Hyperthyroidism from too much thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)
Some general symptoms of pituitary adenomas include:
- Vision problems (double vision, vision loss)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Changes in behavior, including hostility, depression and anxiety
- Changes in the sense of smell
- Nasal drainage
- Sexual dysfunction
- Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Achy joints or muscle weakness
- Early menopause
- Changes in your monthly periods (women)
DIAGNOSIS AND TESTS
HOW ARE PITUITARY ADENOMAS DIAGNOSED?
If doctor thinks that a patient might have a pituitary adenoma, he or she will do a full review of the symptoms and patient medical background, and will perform a physical exam. Lab tests might be done to check the hormone levels in blood. An imaging test, such as an MRI or CT scan*, can show a growth on the pituitary. These tests can confirm the diagnosis of a pituitary adenoma. If someone have problems with their sight, the doctor might also have to take a visual field test to check eye function. Sometimes, pituitary adenomas are found by accident when an MRI or CT is being done for another condition.
*An MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to create clear images of the body. CT uses computers to combine many X-ray images into cross-sectional views of the inside of the body.
HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINE OF PITUITARY ADENOMAS
Homoeopathy today is a rapidly growing system and is being practiced all over the world. Its strength lies in its evident effectiveness as it takes a holistic approach towards the sick individual through promotion of inner balance at mental, emotional, spiritual and physical levels. When Brain tumour is concerned there are many effective medicines available in Homoeopathy, but the selection depends upon the individuality and constitution of the patient, considering the mental and physical symptoms. The most and best commonly used Homeopathic medicines to treat Pituitary adenomas are:
KALI IODIDE –Very useful medicine for Brain tumour with a syphilitic history. There is bilateral violent headache, as if screwed through the sides of the head, worse warmth and pressure.There is hard painful lumps on cranium with headache.There is intense pain over eyes and root of nose. Brain feels enlarged.Useful for pain in scalp as if ulcerated. Hair changes colour and falls off.
CONIUM MACULATUM –Excellent remedy for Brain tumour with nausea and vomiting. The person feels a sensation as if a foreign body was under the skull.There is scorched feeling on top of head. Sensation of a lump in right half of brain. One side of head is numb and cold. There is vertigo on turning the eyes, when lying down or turning over in bed. Gait difficult, which is staggering. There is sudden loss of strength while walking.
HELLEBORUS NIGER –Very useful medicine for Brain tumour with confusion. Headache ends in vomiting. The person rolls the head constantly with moaning. He bores his head into pillow for relief. The person feels that electric shock passes through the brain.
THUJA OCCIDENTALIS –Very effective remedy for Brain tumour with severe headache. The person feels pain as if pierced by a nail, better head backwards. Sweat on forehead and arms. The patient is emotional, sensitive, and irritable. The person desires acid and salty food.
CALCAREA CARBONICUM – Calcarea carbonicum is one of the best remedies for Brain tumour with headache and vertigo on turning the head. The person feels confusion as if the head were too full. He also experiences stitching pain in the skull.Useful for Complains which is worse from cold and wet weather. There is icy coldness in and on the head, especially right side. Much perspiration on the head, which wets the pillow.Best suited for those Children whio have big head and large hard abdomen. Calcarea carb is suitable for fat, flabby persons, susceptible to cold.Specially suited for those children who have special craving for eggs and indigestible things like dirt, chalk, coal, pencil etc.