Difference Between Acromegaly and Gigantism (With Table)

Growth hormones (GH) are necessary for human somatic growth and metabolism. When there is an imbalance in the secretion of the growth hormones, it can cause disorders like Acromegaly and Gigantism.

Cases of Acromegaly and Gigantism might look the same, but both disorders are very different in how they impact the individual.

Acromegaly vs Gigantism

The main difference between Acromegaly and Gigantism is that Acromegaly happens when the pituitary glands in a human’s body secrete excessive amounts of hormones when they become an adult. On the other hand, Gigantism happens when the pituitary glands in a human’s body oversecrete hormones during childhood. 

Difference Between Acromegaly and Gigantism

Usually, in the case of Acromegaly, the person starts experiencing enlargement of the jaw, hands, and feet once they reach age 20. Acromegaly is more likely to happen to someone middle-aged. Acromegaly was named in 1886 by Pierre Marie. The occurrence ratio of Acromegaly in humans is three against fifty thousand people.

A person is diagnosed with Gigantism when there is an abnormal growth in the height and size of the body. The occurrence of Gigantism is more during the childhood or growing years of an individual. French neurologist Pierre Marie also researched and named Gigantism when Acromegaly was named.

Comparison Table Between Acromegaly and Gigantism

Parameters of ComparisonAcromegalyGigantism
DefinitionAcromegaly is a growth disorder where some parts of a human’s body start to overgrow due to the oversecretion of growth hormones.Gigantism is a growth disorder where almost all parts of the body grow more than average due to the oversecretion of growth hormones.
OccurrenceAcromegaly occurs in the age group of 20 to 40 years.Gigantism occurs before a person hits puberty or before 15 years of age.
Signs and symptomsThe signs and symptoms of acromegaly include the face becoming more coarse, growth of excessive and coarse hair, swelling in the hand and legs.The signs and symptoms of gigantism include excessive growth of organs and muscles, increased height, weakness, and insomnia.
ComplicationsThe occurrence of Acromegaly can further increase complications as the cardiomyopathy develops. Other heart issues start appearing along with breathing problems.The occurrence of gigantism can further complicate and create heart issues. Also, it creates problems concerning metabolism.
TreatmentAcromegaly can be treated either with surgery by removing the tumor. Even octreotide can also be used as a treatment option.Gigantism can be treated with pegvisomant along with radiation therapy.

What is Acromegaly?

Acromegaly happens due to the secretion of growth hormone from a benign tumor. As growth hormone production keeps rising, it starts to compress the adjacent brain tissues. Excessive growth hormone production can lead to an increase in bone size. It can cause swelling in the hands or feet.

Acromegaly is a progressive disorder, meaning the changes are not visible immediately. The changes in the size of the hands or face become noticeable with time. One part of the body of some parts, like the jaw or the palms, will start to grow gradually.

There are many symptoms to indicate the onset of Acromegaly. The symptoms include sweating or increased body odor, pain in muscles and joints, breathlessness with small activity, reduced vision, menstruation changes, the skin becoming very rough and thick, and much more.

It is imminent to treat Acromegaly once diagnosed. Avoidance of treatment can lead to other problems like precancerous growth, enlarged thyroid glands, sleep apnea, etc. Early treatment can help with the control of growth hormones. Undetected Acromegaly can also prove to be fatal in some cases.

What is Gigantism?

Gigantism also happens due to the overproduction of growth hormones by the pituitary gland. However, unlike Acromegaly, Gigantism does not start in adulthood. The usual age when Gigantism starts is during puberty or the age of 13 to 15 years.

Although not so rare, a child diagnosed with Gigantism starts to develop abnormal growth either in some parts of the body or the whole body. Apart from the excessive secretion of growth hormone, other reasons can cause Gigantism.

Ailments and disorders like McCune-Albright syndrome, inherited Carney complex, endocrine neoplasia, etc., can contribute to the growth of tumors that can, in turn, cause Gigantism. It’s necessary to analyze the condition as soon as possible to make things under control and the person less sufferable.

One of the signs or symptoms that can be identified in a child having Gigantism is above-average height from the early age of 10 to 12 years. Other prominent features include huge facial structures, thick hands and feet, coarse hair, etc.

Gigantism is more common than Acromegaly and is more dangerous as it can be life-threatening. A glucose test or a blood test can make the identification easier. There are surgeries available to treat Gigantism. If the disorder is undetected, it can also lead to other organ failures.

Main Differences Between Acromegaly and Gigantism

  1. Acromegaly affects people who are over the age of 20. At the same time, Gigantism affects people below the age of 20.
  2. In acromegaly, the height of a person might be average. In gigantism, the height is above average.
  3. Acromegaly can be treated only with medication and surgery. Whereas Surgeries, medication, and therapy can treat gigantism.
  4. Acromegaly mainly happens due to the pituitary glands. On the other hand, gigantism happens due to other disorders like McCune-Albright syndrome.
  5. Acromegaly is not always fatal. On the other hand, people with gigantism are known to have premature death in most cases.

Conclusion

Acromegaly and Gigantism are disorders that make everyday things uncomfortable for the victim. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to controlling the adverse effects of both disorders.

With advancements in medication, new medicines are being made to treat these conditions. In many cases, surgeries can make an impact.

Although the symptoms might seem similar, the way both disorders are treated is very different, making them distinctive.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/humu.23121
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2265.1994.tb03789.x

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Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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