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Growth Hormone Deficiency Symptoms & Treatment

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As the name itself suggests, growth hormone helps in stimulating growth in animal or plant cells. It is secreted by the pituitary gland which is a small gland about the size of a pea located at the base of the skull which secretes eight different hormones.

Understanding Growth Hormone Deficiency and its Causes

Growth hormone deficiency commonly known as GHD is caused when an adequate amount of growth hormone is not produced by the pituitary gland. On an average, the growth hormone deficiency is more common in children than adults.

If we talk about the number of children and adults affected by growth deficiency hormone, the research data says that it's one in every 7,000 births. The deficiency of this hormone is also a symptom of various other genetic diseases which includes Turner syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome.

Children born with cleft palates or cleft lips are commonly found to have poorly developed pituitary glands which lead to growth deficiency hormone in them.

What is Acquired Growth Hormone Deficiency?

What about the growth deficiency hormone problems which are not from birth, but occur at a later stage? The primary reason behind it may be a tumor in the brain. Such tumors are generally located near the hypothalamus region of the brain or the site of the pituitary gland.

Other causes of growth deficiency hormone in children and adults may be infections, serious head injury, and radiation treatments. Growth hormone deficiency arising after birth due to such reasons is also called AGHD or acquired growth hormone deficiency.

Symptoms of Growth Hormone Deficiency in Children

Here is a brief description of the symptoms of growth hormone deficiency found in children:

Shorter Height with Younger and Rounder Faces- Children suffering from growth hormone deficiency are shorter than their peer with a chubby face and baby fat around the abdomen.

Delayed Puberty in Acquired Growth Hormone Deficiency-
In case the growth hormone deficiency appeared at a later stage in a child's life due to any serious injury of tumor, it leads to delayed puberty and halt of sexual development. Such developmental delays also cause low self-esteem in teens with growth hormone deficiency.

Reduced Bone Strength-
It is another major symptom of growth hormone deficiency which may lead to frequent fractures especially in adults. Such people feel tired every time and lack stamina. They also become highly sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.

Slow tooth development- Tooth development becomes very slow and sometimes the size of the tooth also remains smaller than the normal size.

Sluggish Hair Growth- The growth of hair in such children is also badly affected as it becomes very slow and sometimes the child remains bald due to it.

Growth Hormone Deficiency Symptoms in Adults

The symptoms of growth hormone deficiency in adults may vary to a large extent from children. Some of the most common symptoms of growth hormone deficiency in adults include:

  1. • Baldness especially in men
  2. • Decrease in sexual activity and interest
  3. • Decreased muscle strength
  4. • Lack of memory
  5. • Increased dryness in skin
  6. • Increased triglyceride levels
  7. • Feeling of tiredness
  8. • Problems in heart
  9. • High levels of LDL or bad cholesterol
  10. • Increased insulin resistance
  11. • Reduced tolerance to exercise
  12. • Susceptibility to developing osteoporosis due to reduced bone density
  13. • Increased sensitivity to heat and cold
  14. • Reduced energy levels
  15. • Increased weight gain mainly around the waist

Psychological Symptoms of Growth Hormone Deficiency

Apart from the physical symptoms, there are also various psychological symptoms visible in children and adults suffering from growth hormone deficiency. Here are a few:

  1. • Acute depression
  2. • Lack of concentration
  3. • Poor memory
  4. • Emotional anxiousness

Health Risks for Adults with Acquired Growth Hormone Deficiency

  • High level of fat in blood
  • High cholesterol
  • Change in body's metabolism due to low level of growth hormone
  • Risk of diabetes and heart diseases

Diagnosis of Growth Hormone Deficiency

Blood Test- The most common way to measure growth hormone in the body is with a blood test. A blood test with a lower-than-normal result shows growth hormone deficiency.

X- Rays- By doing an x-ray of the growth plates which are the developing tissue at each end of one's arm and leg bones, growth hormone deficiency can be diagnosed. It checks the growth of bones in one's body.

Kidney and Thyroid Function Tests- These tests check the production and usage of hormones in the body and thus, diagnose growth hormone deficiency.

MRI of Brain- MRI imaging scan is generally done for checking growth hormone deficiency in adults who have a history of pituitary disorders or they have suffered from any brain injury.

Treatment of Growth Hormone Deficiency

Synthetic growth hormones have been successfully used since the mid-1980s for the treatment of children and adults suffering from growth hormone deficiency. Growth hormone is injected into the body's fatty tissues, such as the back of the thighs, arms or buttocks, and shows the highly effective result when given on daily basis.

For treating growth hormone deficiency in both children and adults, the most common treatment has always been injecting of growth hormone into the body.

Wellness MGT, the leader in hormone replacement therapy or HRT can successfully treat such problems with the help of its hormone replacement specialists and give a new life to the person suffering from growth hormone deficiency.

For long term treatment, children with congenital GHD are given growth hormones till they reach the age of puberty. Mostly children with very little growth hormone in their youth begin producing enough growth hormones naturally as they enter adulthood. However, some need to take treatment for their entire lives. It is determined by the doctor after checking hormone levels in the blood.

For treating growth hormone deficiency in adults, doctors closely monitor the blood glucose levels, cholesterol levels, and bone density on a regular basis while giving growth hormone injections. It becomes important as injections of growth hormones can impact the bodily response to insulin which plays a pivotal role in controlling blood glucose levels. However; adults must start taking the treatment at an earlier stage as untreated growth hormone deficiency can cause high cholesterol and even lead to osteoporosis.

It is always recommended to start the growth hormone deficiency treatment as soon as it's diagnosed as sooner the treatment always yields better results.

Image Source: Wikipedia