Growth hormone deficiency or GHD takes place when the pituitary gland doesn’t secrete much growth hormone on its own. It affects the children more as compared to adults. The pituitary gland is a small pea shaped gland that is located at the base of the brain and that secretes 8 hormones. Some of the hormones control body temperature and thyroid function while HGH controls your body growth and development.
This deficiency occurs in about 1 person per 7000 births. The condition is a symptom of various genetic problems like Prader Willi syndrome and Turner syndrome. You may get concerned if your child doesn’t meet the weight-height growth standards. The best part about this is that GHD is treatable.
Children who are diagnosed early can recover fast and well. And if left untreated, this condition may lead to shorter than average height as well as delayed puberty. Your body requires GH after puberty. And once you get into the phase of adulthood, GH maintains the overall body structure and metabolism.
Causes behind growth hormone deficiency
GHD is caused by low or no secretion of growth hormones by the pituitary gland. This may be due to congenital or acquired problems. Congenital GHD may be linked with abnormal pituitary gland or may even be a part of another syndrome. In case of normal aging procedure, there is a reduction in amount of GH secreted every day and in its pattern of secretion. It is not sure if this is clinically vital or requires any extra administration. On the other hand, acquired causes behind HGH deficiency include brain tumors, infections, surgery, injury or radiation to head. But there are some cases as well when you cannot identify the cause behind deficiency.
To know what may cause GHD, you have to understand the condition first. This is what happens when you have HGH deficiency: your pituitary gland which is supposed to secrete HGH is also called as somatotropin. The hormone stimulates growth and development and keeps the tissues, muscles and bones healthy. But as your pituitary gland is not able to produce sufficient amounts of GH, growth process slows down considerably.
Lack of GH causes deficiency. It may be possible that you may be born with this deficiency and this is what we have discussed earlier than the deficiency is then called as congenital GH deficiency. But when it is developed during childhood or adulthood, it is known as acquired GH deficiency.
Apart from the causes mentioned above, here are some other common causes of GHD:
- Tumor in head or some history of pituitary tumor
- Head injury
- Poor blood flow to the brain or pituitary gland
- Hormonal issues related to hypothalamus gland or the pituitary gland
Now as you are aware of the common causes behind this deficiency, let’s talk about the signs and symptoms and how you can identify if you have this condition.
Symptoms of GHD in children:
- Low speed of aging
- Short stature
- Delay in tooth development
- More amount of fat especially around the waist
- Delayed starting of puberty
- The child looking younger than other children of same age
So, we can say that the most common symptom of GHD is the child being significantly shorter than other children of his or her age. But a child with this deficiency can even have normal body composition in some cases. You should check with your doctor before coming to any conclusions.
Children with GHD generally grow less than 2 inches each year. The children with normal growth speed grow at about 2 ½ inches per year from age 1 till they hit puberty.
These are the common symptoms in children who have GHD. Let’s see what all symptoms the adults face.
Some symptoms of GH deficiency in adults include:
- Baldness in case if men
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Heart issues
- Reduction in sexual interest and drive
- Dry skin
- Insulin resistance
- Tiredness and/or fatigue
- Reduced muscle strength and mass
- Concentration problems
- Lack of memory
- High levels of bad cholesterol
- Increased triglyceride level
- Low tolerance to exercise
- Weight gain
- Sensitivity to cold and hot
- Reduced bone density
- Too low energy levels
It is further crucial to understand not all with GHD will have same signs and symptoms. Some will even have 1-2 symptoms only while the others can have various symptoms together.
How Is Growth Hormone Deficiency Diagnosed?
Now after identifying a few symptoms, a person asks as to how GHD can be diagnosed. Well, in case of children, the child’s specialist will check for signs of deficiency if the child is not meeting his or her weight and height milestones. They will also ask about the growth rate as your child approaches puberty. If they suspect a case of GHD, various tests are done to confirm it.
A blood test is carried out to know the level of HGH in the body. But your levels of HGH fluctuate a lot all through the day and night. Blood test with lower than normal results will not be sufficient to make any diagnosis.
Growth plates are developing tissues at each end of the leg and arm bones. These plates fuse together as you are finished with your growth stage. X rays of the child’s hand may show their level of bone development.
Even thyroid and kidney function tests can help to know how the body is using and producing the hormones.
In case your doctor suspects some damage or tumor in the pituitary gland, MRI imaging scan can help with a detailed look of the brain. GH levels will be screened in adults who have history of pituitary issues, brain injury or who need brain surgery. These tests can determine if the condition was from birth or brought on by some tumor or injury.
So, there are a lot of tests available that can help to diagnose GHD deficiency and that will further make your treatment go fast. Talk to the doctor right away if your child or you face any of the GHD symptoms mentioned above.
Treatment for HGH deficiency
Children and even some adults with GHD will get benefit from GH Therapy. The main goal of the treatment is to increase the production of HGH in the body, to increase growth in case of children, restore energy and metabolism as well as body composition.
GH treatment may include natural HGH supplements to be taken orally in the form of pills, tablets, sprays etc. These supplements work by providing a trigger to the pituitary gland to secrete natural GH on its own.
It is best to buy the HGH product that is reliable, effective, safe and all natural to keep away from any unwanted side effects.
The prognosis is further determined by the patient’s actual response to the therapy and the cause behind deficiency. What people may experience after the GH therapy include increase in muscle mass, loss of weight, increased energy, improvement in mood and exercise tolerance.
So, this is all about GHD, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Stay connected with us to know more about GH deficiency and its effect on our body.