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What are the symptoms of pituitary gland cysts?

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Quick Answer

Although the majority of pituitary gland cysts are asymptomatic, some cysts can cause headaches, vision problems and pituitary hormone deficiency, states the University of Virginia Health System. A headache is the most common symptom.

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Full Answer

The most common type of pituitary gland cyst is the Rathke's cleft cyst, reports the University of Virginia Health System. Other cysts affecting the pituitary gland are arachnoid cysts, pars intermedia cysts and epidermoid cysts.

Large Rathke's cleft cysts can put pressure on the optic chiasm and affect vision, reports UCLA Health. Instances of vision problems caused by Rathke's cleft cysts include vision loss, loss of peripheral vision, blurry vision and failure to perceive color and its brightness.

Large cysts can also cause pituitary hormone deficiency, which affects women's menstrual cycles and lowers men's sex drive, reports the University of Virginia Health System. Mood swings, changes in behavior and weight, and diabetes insipidus are symptoms of Rathke's cleft cyst, as Johns Hopkins Medicine indicates.

Asymptomatic patients with Rathke's cleft cyst do not require surgery, according to the University of Virginia Health System. However, in the case of patients who do require treatment, doctors usually perform surgery through the nasal passages. Doctors can diagnose cysts by testing hormone levels in the blood and urine, as well as performing a CT scan or MRI, states Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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