Medical treatment is used to keep growth hormone and IGF-1 levels within the normal range. Medications may also be used to reduce the size of your pituitary tumour.
There are three groups of medicines used to treat acromegaly: somatostatin analogues, dopamine agonists, and a growth hormone receptor antagonist.
Your doctor will advise you on the type of medication that is most suitable for you.
Somatostatin analogues are synthetic versions of somatostatin, which reduce the release of growth hormone.
They are given via subcutaneous injection, deep subcutaneous injection or intramuscular injection, depending on the drug administered.
A dopamine agonist can also help to reduce the release of growth hormone in the body.
It is given orally as tablets.
A growth hormone receptor antagonist works by blocking the action of growth hormone from having an effect on the body, which in turn leads to decreased IGF-1 levels in the body. It is given by subcutaneous injection.
All medicines have side effects.
It is important to read the consumer medicine information for the medicine that you have been prescribed to make sure that you understand how it works and the possible side effects that may occur. You can obtain a copy of the consumer medicine information from your pharmacist.
It is also important that you tell your doctor about any side effects you experience. Your doctor can provide you with advice on how to manage any side effects and decide whether your treatment needs to change. He or she may also need to pass on information about any side effects that you experience to the manufacturer of the medicine and the local health authority.
The most common side effects of somatostatin analogues are diarrhoea, abdominal pain and gallstones.
Other common side effects may include nausea (feeling sick), vomiting, wind (flatulence), bloating, constipation, headache, feeling tired and pain at the site of injection. Most side effects occur during the first few weeks and subside with ongoing treatment.
Higher than normal blood glucose levels may also occur with some somatostatin analogues.
Nausea (feeling sick), constipation and vomiting are common side effects of treatment with a dopamine agonist. Other common side effects include feeling nasal congestion, headache, dizziness, and sleepiness or drowsiness.
The most common side effects with a growth hormone receptor antagonist are injection site reactions, sweating, nausea, diarrhoea, and abnormal liver function tests. Your doctor will monitor your blood at intervals to check that your liver enzymes remain within normal limits during your treatment.
Speak to your endocrinologist or other member of your healthcare team if you would like more information about the medications used to treat acromegaly and their specific side effects.
Read and hear answers to some common questions that patients with acromegaly have asked
Find an acromegaly patient support group in your country to find out about local activities and events that you may be able to attend
Information about the emotional, physical and social challenges of living with acromegaly