Giant growth (hypersomia)
What is giant growth?
Giant growth is an extraordinary and enormously above average body size. Basically, those people who are among the three percent of the largest in their age and sex class are considered gigantic.
More specific divisions refer to the cause of the tremendous growth. For example, a giant hormone caused by hormones is referred to as a pituitary gigantism, a genetically determined as a primordial high growth. Other terms for gigantism are hypersomia and gigantism.
A particular form of gigantism is acromegaly, in which only the body end limbs and the body of the body such as feet, ears, eyes or chin are enlarged. Giant growth is a very rare phenomenon in Germany. Every year, around three to four new people are affected by one million people.
The most common cause of gigantism is a hormonal imbalance. This imbalance can have different triggers. During the growth phase, the pituitary gland, which is responsible for the production and release of growth hormones, may be disturbed.
In this case, it releases too many growth hormones, leading to uncontrolled growth of the body. The reason for this disorder is in most cases a benign tumor in the pituitary gland. Tumors in the pancreas may also have an effect on growth because growth hormones are also produced there.
But tumors are not always responsible for a hypersomia. A congenital hyperthyroidism (hyperthyroidism) or diabetes of the mother during pregnancy can lead to gigantism in infants, as well as the hormone balance disorders. The extremely rare triggers for gigantism include genetic defects such as the Klinefelter syndrome, in which men have an additional X chromosome.
Symptoms, complaints & signs
The characteristic feature of Giant Growth is a body height that is far above average. The average value depends on ethnicity, age and gender. One form of hypersomia is when height is in the first percentile. As a rule, in giant growth all body parts grow in proportion to body size.
However, there are some forms of the disease in which only the extremities and body tips are above average. Giant growth is already noticeable in infants and children in many cases. They often suffer from growing pains. Babies and toddlers often cry for this reason.
These pains persist until early adulthood and become unbearable for some patients. Depending on the nature and severity of gigantism, those affected often develop postural defects. These cause additional pain and physical restrictions. Often visible misalignments show up. Another common symptom is joint pain.
If the gigantism is hormonal, a number of other complaints may occur. It comes in many cases to damage the internal organs. Especially the liver and kidneys are particularly affected. In addition, affected children and adolescents are sexually mature at an early age. The secondary sexual characteristics are often pronounced in them before the age of ten.
Diagnosis & History
Home remedies ↵ against joint
Pain The most obvious symptom of gigantism is a tremendously above-average height, which often already exists in early childhood. In addition, there is often severe pain during growth and vigorous growth spurts. The diagnosis of giant growth is based on evaluations of blood levels in the laboratory. If these indicate a strong imbalance in the hormone levels, further examinations such as magnetic resonance imaging or x-rays are ordered. Thus, a pathological gigantism can be distinguished from a natural, purely genetic growth above average.
The disease course in gigantism is very different and always dependent on severity and treatment options. The most serious strain on the skeleton is the rapid and uncontrolled growth, and the bones burden it. Bone growth is often non-uniform and can lead to serious malpositions and postural changes, often associated with severe head and joint pain.
In addition, the disrupted hormone balance also affects the internal organs such as the kidneys or the liver. In many cases children affected by gigantism are prematurely sexually mature. Secondary sexual characteristics begin to develop before the age of ten. Despite better treatment options, the average life expectancy of people with gigantism is still significantly lower than that of normal-sized people.
One of the biggest complications of gigantism is postural damage. The rapid and uncontrolled growth significantly burdens the bones and leads to malpositions, which are often associated with severe head and joint pain. Also characteristic are the characteristic bulges and the enlargement of the nose. As a result of the macroglossia, ie the enlargement of the tongue, there is an indistinct pronunciation.
These abnormalities often result in mental suffering. Giant growth is usually associated with inferiority complexes and depression. The disturbed hormone balance overloads the internal organs such as kidneys and liver. Children with gigantism also come prematurely into sexual maturity and also have a reduced life expectancy. If the hypersomia is based on a pituitary tumor, additional complaints such as visual disturbances, visual field defects and neurological disorders may be added.
Rarely, the tumor disease is deadly. In the treatment of gigantism may, depending on the selected therapy, come to many complications. Chemotherapy can cause long-term consequences such as organ damage and hormonal imbalances. Hormone therapy can also cause hormonal imbalances and lead to premature menopause in women. Surgery is generally associated with risks (for example, injuries and bleeding).
When should you go to the doctor?
A hypersomia should always be examined by a doctor. This disease does not self-heal. In general, the hypersomia can not be treated properly, so that the person is only dependent on a purely symptomatic treatment. A complete cure can not be achieved. In most cases, hypersomia does not affect the life expectancy of the person affected. A doctor should be consulted if the patient suffers from gigantism. The affected are very large, the limbs are usually very long.
Also, very severe pain during growth often indicates hypersomia and should always be studied. Even with pain in the joints, an examination by a doctor is very useful. Usually, the hypersomia can be determined by a pediatrician or by a general practitioner. The treatment itself always depends on the exact symptoms and their severity, so that no universal prognosis can be made.
Treatment & Therapy
For the treatment of gigantism successful treatment of the underlying disease is required. The most common trigger, the pituitary tumor, can be treated by various methods. Since surgery near the brain involves great risks, it is often first tried to fight the tumor by radiation or chemotherapy.
On the other hand, if the tumor is malignant in one of the very rare cases, neurosurgical intervention is inevitable. The same procedure is followed for a tumor in the pancreas. In addition to treating the tumor, hormone therapy is often prescribed to inhibit growth. Estrogens and progestogens are used in female patients, in male testosterone. If the risk of gigantism is increased by maternal gestational diabetes, it must be optimally treated throughout the pregnancy to prevent overgrowth of the embryo.
Basically, the sooner the treatment of the trigger begins, the greater the chances for an uncomplicated course of the disease. If treatment is only at an advanced stage or after the end of the growth phase, permanent postural damage can often no longer be averted. In this case, an orthopedist can only try to treat the already existing ailments.
As both attitudes towards people with gigantism and treatment options have improved dramatically in recent decades, those affected today can be treated much more efficiently and successfully. Nevertheless, an early detection remains the most important thing, which is why even at low signs of gigantism, a doctor should be consulted.
Affected persons of gigantism (hypersomia) stand out because of their above-average size for a lifetime. The disease is congenital and is triggered, among other things by an excessive release of growth hormones. The body size can be counteracted by surgery or administration of appropriate hormones only conditionally, the sufferers stand out permanently from the crowd. For this reason, the aftercare is mainly in psychotherapeutic form.
A specialist will first determine the cause of the gigantism. There are various hereditary diseases or hormonal disorders in question. The causative disease can not be corrected later, if it is innate. In a hormonal overproduction, a corresponding therapy can counteract another growth spurt.
For this, the patient must still be in the growth phase. If gigantism is associated with pain in the joints, the controlled use of painkillers is recommended. Psychotherapy can help in the giant growth disorder to get better control of existing mental symptoms.
The goal is the prevention of depression due to a low self-esteem. The person concerned learns how to cope with its peculiarity in everyday life. His self-confidence should be consolidated and stabilized. The therapist has to convey to the patient that despite his size he is by no means 'wrong' in comparison to average grown people, but only different.
You can do that yourself
The possibilities of self-help are low in a giant growth. There are no alternative therapies or self-imposed measures that lead to a reduction in physical growth. Since the growth process takes place during the first years of life, those affected can hardly take initiatives that lead to cause research or change. They depend on the support and help of their guardians or relatives.
The prospect of change is possible only in close collaboration with a doctor and the patient. Already in the first years of life the consultation of a doctor is necessary. Achieved physical growth can not be corrected. Therefore, those affected by gigantism should develop different strategies that contribute to a fulfilled life and a better quality of life despite the visual abnormalities.
The mental strength, a stable self-esteem and the healthy handling of the physical characteristics are important in order to avoid discomfort or mental disorders during the course of life. If discomfort of the joints occur, rest periods and breaks should be taken in good time. In addition, it is advisable to work with a physiotherapist. Exercises that are specifically tailored to the needs of the patient can be carried out independently and on a daily basis. They serve to relieve the symptoms and improve the overall well-being.