ADULT GROWTH HORMONE DEFICIENCY


Growth hormone is required both in childhood and in adulthood.The anterior pituitary gland secretes growth hormone. When the pituitary gland does not produce sufficient growth hormone it becomes deficient in the body. This hormone is responsible for certain metabolic effects in our body. Some people are diagnosed with the condition in childhood and others are diagnosed in their adult life. There seems to be no genetic predisposition.

Causes

  • Pituitary tumor or due to surgery/radiotherapy for pituitary tumor
  • Radiotherapy to the brain for tumors close to pituitary gland
  • Leukaemia
  • Head injury
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Sheehan’s syndrome or Pituitary apoplexy(due to improper blood supply to pituitary gland).
  • Genetic defects like Turner’s syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Abnormality of pituitary gland in the foetus

 Signs and symptoms

  • Increased body fat, mainly abdominal fat
  • Reduced muscle mass and strength
  • Reduced stamina and energy
  • Increased anxiety, depression and mood swings
  • Deranged lipid levels
  • Osteoporosis
     

Diagnosis- The most common test used is the insulin tolerance test. In this test the patient is given insulin injection to reduce the blood sugar level. This intern stimulates the pituitary gland to release growth hormone. Blood samples are taken at intervals to monitor GH response. If growth hormone levels do not rise it is diagnosed as growth hormone deficiency. 

Treatment

It is noticed that growth hormone replacement for those having GH deficiency has lead to significant benefits. There is improvement in overall general well being of the patients. There is reduction of body fat, increase in muscle mass and improved muscle tolerance.GH injection is similar to the insulin injections which the patient can administer themselves. The patients are followed up regularly and monitored by regular blood tests. The doses of the GH hormone are adjusted depending on the test results and patient response.

 Side-effects of Growth hormone injections

Joint pains, swelling of hands and feet, headache, blurring of vision are some of the reported side effects. These can be tackled by reducing the injection dose. Growth hormone injections won’t cause any  height  increase in adults.

Implications of growth hormone deficiency

  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke due to more body fat and high cholesterol levels. So patients have to follow healthy balanced diet and regular exercise to remain healthy.

Risk of Osteoporosis that may lead to fractures with minor injuries. Consuming diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, regular moderate exercise will reduce this risk.