People with acromegaly can develop hypertension and heart disease, particularly clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) and enlargement of the muscle of the heart (cardiomyopathy), which in turn can lead to heart failure if not recognized and appropriately treated.
These heart conditions can often be managed by living a healthy lifestyle and by taking medications prescribed by a doctor, such as drugs that control blood pressure and prevent water retention, and drugs that lower the amount of fat (cholesterol) in your blood.
Persistent tissue swelling in the nasal passages caused by excess growth hormone in the body can block the upper airway and result in severe snoring. If there are also frequent, but brief, interruptions in breathing during sleep this is a condition called sleep apnea. This may not be something you are aware of until your partner complains that you are keeping them awake at night.
Sleep apnea is a long-term condition that is linked to other health problems such as heart disease, so it is important to talk to a doctor if you have trouble sleeping at night, do not feel refreshed when you wake in the morning or feel tired throughout the day.
Losing weight if you are overweight or obese can often help sleep apnea. If you smoke, stopping smoking can also help, as can reducing how much alcohol you drink. Not taking sedative medicines or sleeping tablets may also help improve sleep apnea.
People with acromegaly can develop type 2 diabetes mellitus, a condition that results when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, level is consistently too high. This type of diabetes usually develops over time and the typical symptoms are fatigue, excessive thirst, and hunger.
Losing weight if overweight or obese, through diet and exercise, can help manage the condition.
Oral medications and insulin may be required if diet and exercise alone do not bring blood sugar down to be within normal limits.
The pituitary gland sits close to the nerves that are responsible for eyesight. So, when there is a tumor in the pituitary, this can enlarge and compress the sight nerves, which can lead to vision impairment and possible eyesight loss.
Diagnosing acromegaly as soon as possible and surgically removing the tumor, as well as using other treatments for acromegaly may help to avoid or reduce the severity of this complication.
If you experience a tingling or pain in your fingers you may have carpal tunnel syndrome. This is caused by excess fluid retention in the ‘tissue tunnel’ of the wrist that causes pressure on the median nerve.
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome will depend on how severe your symptoms are. Treatments can range from simply resting your wrist(s) and using wrist-supporting splints, to taking pain-relieving medications, and, if no improvement, surgery.
Usually, carpal tunnel syndrome in people with acromegaly will get much better or resolve once the condition is treated and growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels are back within their normal ranges.
Joint aches and pains, which your doctor may refer to as arthralgia or arthritis, can occur in people with acromegaly.
Joint problems can also occur as you age and be unrelated to your acromegaly.
Treatments are available to help alleviate painful joints.
You might also find that exercise helps.
Read practical tips to help make your life with acromegaly easier, including tips from others living with the condition
Find an acromegaly patient support group in the US to find out about local activities and events that you may be able to attend
Learn about acromegaly including what causes this slowly evolving condition, and the early symptoms and signs