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Brief and Straightforward Guide on: Symptoms Of Growth Hormone Deficiency

What is Growth Hormone Deficiency?

Human Growth Hormone Deficiency is a disorder in which, our body fails to produce adequate quantities of the Growth Hormone (GH). The Human Growth Hormone is a poly-peptide, which stimulates cellular reproduction and growth. The deficiency of the Growth Hormone may be congenital (i.e. since birth) or acquired (i.e. occurring after birth). The deficiency is partial in most cases but can be complete in some, and is invariably a permanent disorder. Furthermore, the deficiency of the Growth Hormone usually occurs in correlation with deficiency of other hormones released by the Pituitary gland. Growth hormone deficiency is also termed as Hypopituitarism by endocrinologists, especially, when the deficiency of the Growth Hormone is associated with a deficiency or an underproduction of other Pituitary hormones.

The clinical manifestation of the Growth Hormone deficiency depends upon the age at which it occurs. In newborns and infants, it is clinically manifested in the form of micropenis (i.e. small penis) or hypoglycemia (i.e. low levels of blood sugar). Among older children, it is manifested as f growth failure (i.e. failure to gain height or weight). Adult deficiency is fairly rare, and occurs at the frequency of ten in a million population. Most of the complaints in Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency include: social withdrawal, depression, poor memory, weakness, lack of strength and stamina, poor musculature, and weight gain.

Causes of Growth Hormone Deficiency

As per medical literature, the onset of Growth Hormone deficiency in childhood has no identifiable cause i.e. it is idiopathic in nature, while, adult Growth Hormone deficiency has been associated with Pituitary tumors or radiation therapy. Some of the causes include,

• Gene Mutations of the Growth Hormone binding receptors
• Certain types of congenital disease conditions like, Prader-Willi Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, etc are associated with Growth Hormone deficiency
• Congenital malformation of the Pituitary gland, like posterior pituitary ectopia, septo-optic dysplasia, etc
• Chronic Renal Insufficiency
• Premature babies with a small gestational age
• Tumors in the intracranial region e.g. craniophryngioma
• Damage to the Pituitary gland, as a result of radiation therapy, from surgery or trauma
• Autoimmune inflammation has also been associated with Growth Hormone deficiency
• Ischemic or hemorrhagic infarction in the Pituitary gland causes a reduced production of the Growth Hormone.

Symptoms of Growth Hormone Deficiency

Growth hormone deficiency is manifested differently in adult and in children. The most common sign of the deficiency of Growth Hormone in children is, slowing of growth to less than two inches per year. As per the U.K. Child Growth Foundation, the incidence of idiopathic Growth Hormone deficiency is one in 3800 live births. The following signs and symptoms are associated with growth hormone deficiency in children,

• Short height for their respective age.
• Increased deposition of adipose tissue around the face and the waist. The body composition is highly distorted and the child may appear chubby.
• Appearance of the child may not be as per his/her age (i.e. the child may look younger). In children suffering from significant GH deficiency the facial features are distinguished by a prominence of the forehead and maxillary hypoplasia. In some children, sparse growth of hair is observed along with frontal recession.
• Delayed onset of puberty (smaller penis size) and delayed milestones. This is observed in cases of severe Growth Hormone deficiency, which results in delayed gross motor milestones like standing, walking, etc whilst, the tooth development is also significantly delayed.
• Mental anxiety and apprehension about height

As per a study published in the Society of Endocrinology in 2000, the prevalence of adult growth hormone deficiency is ten per million population. The symptoms of Growth Hormone deficiency in adults include,

• Reduced levels of energy and overall weakness
• Decrease in strength and exercise tolerance
• Reduced bone mass and density (osteoporosis) making the bones brittle and weak.
• Reduced muscle mass whilst increase in weight and fat deposition all over the body, particularly, about with waist
• Overall increase in mental apprehension, anxiety and depression. Poor memory and impaired concentration.
• The texture and quality of the skin becomes poor. The skin becomes thinner, it looses its elasticity and fine lines and wrinkles make an appearance.
• Reduced cardiac functions, insulin resistance and abnormal lipid profile with increase in LDL levels.
• Reduced sexual functions and libido. This is associated with hair loss and baldness in men.

Diagnosing Growth Hormone Deficiency

• Clinical evaluation: The initial assessment is based on the medical history and clinical evaluation. In children, the height and the weight of the child is plotted along the growth chart, and this is used to assess the deviation from normal growth patterns. The condition improves considerably, especially, if the child is diagnosed and treated early.
• Radiological Investigations: X rays of the bones are taken to compare the child’s height with the chronological age. Further CT scan or MRI scanning of the brain and the bones would help assess and evaluate the functioning of the Pituitary gland and the reduced bone density.
• Blood Investigations: For assessment of Growth hormone deficiency in adults, blood investigations are the best alternative. Adults suffering from GH deficiency exhibit increased cholesterol levels, especially, higher levels of LDL, apolipoprotien B and triglycerides.

Management of Growth Hormone Deficiencies

The treatment of choice available for the management of Growth Hormone deficiencies arising due to reduced production of the hormone is the Growth Hormone Replacement Therapy. The treatment involves administering intra-muscular injections of bio-synthetically prepared Growth Hormone (called Somatropin) into the fat underneath the skin. This is the most potent and successful method to treat deficiency disorders.

Certain side effects of this treatment therapy include: headache, joint and muscle pain, fluid retention, mild form of hypertension, nausea and vomiting, paraesthesia (i.e. partial loss of sensations), visual problems and reactions at the site of the injection. These complications however, depend upon the length of the treatment and the dosage, with increased intensity of complications with increased dosage and length of treatment.

A physician’s or an endocrinologist’s prescription and guided supervision, is of absolute essence for HGH injectible replacement therapy.

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