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HGH Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, Testing, and Treatment

HGH Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, Testing, and Treatment
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HGH deficiencyWe all need human growth hormone (HGH) to grow from children into healthy adults. Growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland. It is responsible for bone and muscle growth, and all of the processes that allow children to achieve normal adult height and strength.

Even after we stop growing, adults still need growth hormone. Growth hormone plays a very important role in almost every biological process. It is especially critical for bone health and muscle tone. It also influences your body’s ability to burn or store fat. In addition, growth hormone is necessary for cognitive health, and other brain functions.

As important as growth hormone is, unfortunately there are times when your body may not be producing enough HGH. This is known as having a growth hormone deficiency, or GHD.

How Common Is Adult-Onset Growth Hormone Deficiency?

Adult-onset growth hormone deficiency occurs when the pituitary gland fails to produce enough growth hormone. It can be successfully treated with growth hormone therapy. In younger adults, whose pituitary glands are functioning normally, it is a relatively uncommon condition. Estimates are that only 1 in every 10,000 persons has a pituitary disease related GHD.

However, since your levels of HGH decline as you age, it is not uncommon for most adults between the ages of 45 and 65, to be experiencing some level of GHD.

Even as adults, men and women still need human growth hormone.

Causes of Growth Hormone Deficiency

In adults below the age of 40, any case of adult onset GHD is most likely the result of a disease or injury that impacts the pituitary gland. Most likely a pituitary tumor.
Pituitary damage can also be caused by:

  • Radiation therapy to treat a pituitary tumor or other cancers
  • Severe head injury
  • Certain autoimmune diseases
  • Certain genetic conditions
  • Child-onset growth hormone deficiency that continues into adulthood

However, in older adults, the most common cause of growth hormone deficiency is simply the normal drop in growth hormone that occurs as we age. Some people can handle the natural decline of HGH, but in others, it can lead to adult onset GHD.

The Signs and Symptoms of Growth Hormone Deficiency

The signs of adult onset GHD can often seem like the signs of “just growing old.” This is why many adults with a growth hormone deficiency ignore their symptoms and go untreated.
The most common symptoms of HGH deficiency in adults are:

  • Lack of energy, decreased stamina, feeling unrested due to poor sleep
  • Accumulation of fat stores in the abdomen and throughout the body
  • Decline in muscle mass or strength
  • Warnings of osteoporosis – decreased bone density, joint pains, height shrinkage
  • Impaired cognitive skills, memory loss, mental fog, poor concentration
  • Depression, mood swings, anxiety, stress
  • High cholesterol
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Hair thinning or loss, brittle nails
  • Sagging skin and wrinkles
  • Low libido

Other HGH deficiency symptoms in adults could include:

  • Sensitivity to hot and cold changes in temperature
  • Hot flashes or night sweats – males can get these, as well
  • Blurry night vision and declining eyesight
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • High blood pressure
  • Social isolation or disinterest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Reduced exercise capacity
  • History of cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes
  • Loss of drive or motivation
  • Increased susceptibility to catching colds or viruses
  • Taking too long to recover from cuts, bruises, injuries, or illness

The more symptoms you notice, the more likely that your growth hormone levels are below the normal levels, and that you may be suffering from adult-onset GHD.

Growth Hormone Deficiency Testing

Growth Hormone Deficiency TestingThe only way to determine if you have a growth hormone deficiency is to have the level of HGH in your blood tested. You may also need to take the type of HGH test that measures your body’s ability to produce HGH. Your evaluation will start with a physical exam. Based on your symptoms, medical history, and results of your physical, if your doctor suspects GHD, he or she will order the apropos blood test.

Please follow your doctor’s instructions exactly on how to prepare for your particular growth hormone test or tests.

HGH Replacement Therapy to Treat Growth Hormone Deficiency

Regardless of the causes, adult onset GHD is treated with HGH replacement therapy. Growth hormone therapy is prescribed as a program of daily HGH injections. Real growth hormone therapy is only available through a doctor’s prescription, and is only prescribed for people who have been diagnosed with GHD.

Growth hormone therapy is safe. When you follow your doctor’s instructions, growth hormone therapy has very few side effects. Growth hormone therapy is relatively pain-free.

The needles used for HGH injections are the same size as those used by people who inject insulin. There are injectable pens and other devices available for patients who are not comfortable with the idea of mixing, and giving themselves injections.

Growth hormone therapy has been shown to reduce, and in some cases, even reverse, the symptoms of GHD.

GHD in adults can be effectively treated with growth hormone replacement therapy.

The benefits of growth hormone therapy include:

  • Increased energy
  • Increased strength and stamina
  • Improved sex drive and enhanced sexual performance
  • Weight loss, particularly stubborn belly fat
  • Increased ability to build lean muscle
  • Better outcomes from exercising
  • Improved hair, nail, and skin health
  • Increased immune function
  • Improved mood
  • Improved memory and other cognitive functions

Now that you understand a little bit more about growth hormone deficiency in adults, why don’t you take a minute to contact us, and see if growth hormone therapy may be right for you.

Written by Author - AuthorsDoctors/Authors - Medically reviewed by   Reviewers Reviewers - Created at May 25, 2018 - Updated on November 3, 2020