Glass containers of human growth hormone.

Treating Growth Hormone Deficiency

Growth Hormone Deficiency Treatment

Your child’s health is a top priority. Knowing how to recognize and treat a growth hormone deficiency may be part of this journey. As a parent, you want to ensure they grow and develop into healthy and full-functioning adults. When your child’s growth is different from their peers, you may begin to wonder what is going on.

In some cases, this might simply mean they have not gone through a growth spurt quite yet. In other cases, your child could have a growth hormone deficiency.

In this article, we are going to dive into what growth hormone deficiency is, the causes of it, the symptoms associated with it and what growth hormone deficiency treatment options are available. Let’s take a look!

Treatment Options

Once your doctor has properly diagnosed you or your child with GHD, they will determine a suitable treatment protocol for you and your health. Typically, treatment involves daily dosages of HGH. Usually, this is performed by the patient or a close family member, such as a parent or partner.

Every four to eight weeks, your doctor will perform a follow-up with you. This involves testing and monitoring to determine how the treatment is going and if you need more or less HGH. Signs that you have too much HGH include swelling, joint pain and numbness. Make sure to let your doctor know at your follow-up if you have been experiencing any of these symptoms.

Your doctor will also monitor your blood cholesterol and bone density. Generally, the goal of treatment is to improve these markers.

In some cases, HGH injections may not be suitable. This includes cases where an individual is undergoing serious abdominal or heart surgery or if they have active tumors or cancer.

Additionally, monitoring your blood glucose during treatment is a good idea. This is because HGH can alter how the body uses insulin, which means this is especially important for those at a high risk of diabetes or who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

If a growth hormone deficiency goes untreated, complications may develop, such as increased cardiovascular risk factors, decreased energy and decreased bone mineral density. For young children, it may also mean they won’t grow or develop as they should.

What is Growth Hormone Deficiency?

Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is when the pituitary gland does not produce enough of the human growth hormone (HGH). This hormone is essential for the proper growth of bone and other tissues. Usually, this deficiency is noticed when your child’s growth appears slower around the age of 3. In fact, about 1 in 4,000 to 10,000 children have a growth hormone deficiency.

Also known as dwarfism, children with GHD typically have a shorter stature but with normal body proportions. Common symptoms include:

  • Slow growth.
  • Absent or delayed sexual development and puberty.
  • Headaches.
  • Short stature.

Additionally, some children may experience increased urination, excessive thirst and facial abnormalities.

Children who are more at risk of GHD include:

  • Those who have had a brain tumor.
  • Those who have had a brain injury.
  • Those who have had radiation treatment.
  • Those with diseases impacting the pituitary gland or other glands.

An important part of GHD to note is that it doesn’t impact your child’s intelligence at all. It generally only has physical implications.

How is It Diagnosed?

For proper diagnosis, your doctor will run a series of tests, which may include blood testing, x-rays, CT scans and an MRI. These tests can help eliminate any other issues that could be leading to your child’s symptoms and determine if they do, in fact, have GHD.

For adults who have developed GHD, symptoms may further include:

  • Body fat around the waist
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased libido
  • Sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Less muscle
  • Less strength
  • Decreased bone density
  • Changes in blood cholesterol

In adults, this frequently occurs due to changes to the pituitary gland, such as a tumor or injury. Luckily, there are treatment options available.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you are worried about your child having GHD, you may want to go equipped to your doctor with a handful of questions including:

  • What is causing GHD?
  • Will hormone treatment be necessary?
  • What should we expect for my child’s growth?
  • How long will my child need to be on medication or hormonal therapy?
  • Are there any side effects or complications that could occur with treatment?

Discussing treatment options and more with your doctor can help you get a better idea of what to expect and put any concerns to rest. If you notice any changes in your child’s growth or development or you notice any changes in your health, book an appointment with your family doctor. The earlier your doctor can diagnose the problem, the earlier you or your child can get treatment.

If you or your child have recently been diagnosed with GHD, you may further benefit from counseling to help cope with treatment or the effects of this condition. Again, discussing your options with your doctor can help in leaps and bounds.

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