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Adult growth hormone deficiency: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About adult growth hormone deficiency

This is a hormonal disorder, caused by reduced production of growth hormone in an adult body. The growth hormone which is responsible not only for the physical growth of the human body but also for other essential metabolic functions, is produced by a small organ called the pituitary gland situated in the brain. The growth hormone is needed to maintain proper metabolism of carbohydrates and fat in adults.

Adult growth hormone deficiency: Incidence, age and sex

Adult growth hormone deficiency is most commonly seen in middle-aged people. There seems to be no gender difference in the prevalence.

Signs and symptoms of adult growth hormone deficiency: Diagnosis

The symptoms of growth hormone deficiency are vague, thus causing delay in its diagnosis. Lack of growth hormone disrupts the normal metabolism of the body, leading to reduced muscle mass, decreased density of bones and abnormal fat accumulation. Features like obesity, constant tiredness, and reduced exercise tolerance may occur. Fat characteristically accumulates over belly. Other symptoms which may be seen are impaired psychological well being. Occasionally affected men may complain of decreased libido.

Causes and prevention of adult growth hormone deficiency

The production of growth hormone normally varies with age. It is produced in greater amount in childhood and declines in older age. But when this production is less than normal in adults, it leads to this hormonal disorder. This happens when the pituitary gland is damaged in conditions like pituitary tumour, head injury or as a side affect to radiotherapy treatment.

Adult growth hormone deficiency: Complications

The complications of this disorder may be seen not only due to disease but also occur by its overzealous treatment. A decrease in bone density causes weakening of bones, making them prone to fractures. Moreover impaired fat metabolism may disrupt the appropriate ratio of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body. This increase in ‘bad’ cholesterol coupled with increased weight gain, carries high risk of diseases like diabetes and heart problems. Moreover the patient may get depressed and go into social isolation due to psychological impairment and obesity. It is extremely important to be careful with the dosage of medications as overdosing may cause swelling over ankles, joint and bone pain.

Adult growth hormone deficiency: Treatment

Once your doctor suspects growth hormone deficiency by detailed medical history, he may want to confirm it by some diagnostic tests. A certain blood test called ‘growth hormone stimulation test’ may be performed to confirm the diagnosis. Imaging techniques, like an MRI scan is helpful in diagnosing pituitary tumours. The treatment of this disorder is a lifelong substitution of growth hormone which is given in an injectible form. Regular injections of growth hormone are needed to alleviate this problem. Moreover, it is important to get your medication doses reviewed by the doctor at regular intervals. The cause of growth hormone deficiency should also be ascertained and managed.