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Growth hormone deficiency is manifested in both children and adults. Different cases have different symptoms and not every deficiency of this hormone manifests itself in the same way. But how big is this problem really?

This hormonal disorder can occur either in infancy or in later childhood. In the United States, one in two children in 10,000 have the condition, and one in 6,000 adults is diagnosed with GH deficiency. In Europe, it seems, this problem is somewhat more prevalent, i.e. 4-5 people (at any age) face a deficiency of growth hormone. The data refer only to the European Union population.

The causes can be congenital, ie genetic, as a consequence of an inherited factor or mutation. However, disorders of this hormone can occur during childhood and even in adulthood, as a result of various traumas, infections, diseases, therapies, especially radiotherapy. The problem occurs in the pituitary gland, where the secretion of the required hormone is reduced.

How is this disorder detected?

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If you notice that your child is stunted, you need to pass the suspicion on to your pediatrician so that he or she can monitor it and ask for a blood test and hormonal status. Based on these results, therapy is given or the extent of the disease is predicted.

Of course, parents must also pay attention to the following symptoms:

  • The child has physical differences with the average growth of the children their age
  • Puberty is late
  • They look much younger than their peers
  • Teeth grow late
  • In boys, the genitals are much smaller than other babies of a similar age
  • The child has problems with low blood sugar

Symptoms of adult growth hormone deficiency can include increased body fat, dizziness, anxiety, high sensitivity to heat and cold, lean muscle mass, brittle bones, frequent fatigue, and high cholesterol.

The results of the hormonal test will show whether the growth hormone is within normal limits or is secreted less. Sometimes it can happen that the child has all the symptoms we have listed, but the hormones are in perfect balance. This may be due to inherited recessive genes from distant relatives, which, by coincidence, dominate your child.

No matter what the situation with the results, if the condition worries you, your pediatrician will refer you to a pediatric endocrinologist.

It is a doctor who specializes in internal medicine and endocrinology, the science of glands and hormones. There they may request more detailed examinations to get a more accurate picture.

However, if the initial results show growth hormone deficiency, the pediatric endocrinologist will be able to assess whether it is:

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  • Congenital deficiency – When the child is born with it. Often, they may have issues with the other hormones too.
  • Acquired deficiency – When the body stops producing the growth hormone, due to some reasons that should be examined as soon as possible.

After the examination, the endocrinologist will recommend an approach to treatment and appropriate therapy. Sometimes therapy will include pills, natural remedies, but also injections like

Remember that no matter what you read online, the opinion of the endocrinologist and their recommendations must always be a priority in making decisions about how to treat the problem.

As this is a sensitive problem, it is necessary to take the child to regular check-ups in order to monitor whether he responds appropriately to the therapy or it needs to be adapted. The road is really long, but with enough effort and responsibility, your child will grow up again according to their age.

What can cause growth hormone deficiency in older children or adults?

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Apart from the genetic factor, it often happens that this disorder is a consequence of other external factors. For example, damage to sperm or eggs in parents who do not have a problem with growth hormone but pass it on to the child. Then there are head injuries that can occur in adults, and the pituitary gland is injured. Brain tumors are also a major risk factor, surgery to remove them, even radiation treatments, and less often cytostatics and chemotherapy.

Even in adults, it is necessary to do a test, with the recommendation of an endocrinologist, to check if the parameters are within the limits. Occasionally, you may need additional outpatient growth hormone stimulation, an X-ray of your bones, or even an MRI scan of your brain.

What else do you need to know about this condition?

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If detected in time, it can be successfully treated and give excellent results. But you must be aware that every situation is different and you can not be completely guided by the experience of others. You need to be responsible yourself and go for regular checkups. In this way, the endocrinologist will successfully monitor the condition and adjust the therapy, if necessary.

Also, the therapy may have certain side effects, which in any case you must report to your doctor. That way you can be sure that you or your child will receive the right endocrine treatment.

Expected side effects of the therapy are occasional headaches, weakness in the arms and legs, as well as small and solvable posture problems due to growth.

Very rare, but still dangerous side effects are constant headaches, vision disorders, sleep problems, severe inflammation, and even hip dislocation due to the speed of growth.

That is why medical examinations are mandatory and any changes are reported to the endocrinologist.

The final thoughts

Knowing that this problem exists and can happen to anyone, it is necessary as a parent to see and follow the potential problems in the child and to react immediately. The same should be done for adults who have been at risk for growth hormone deficiency.

Regular medical examinations will prevent the development of a severe and irreversible clinical picture. Hormone balance is key because, with just one small disturbance, the whole body is in poor condition and can easily affect other glands in the body. So, spot the differences and react on time.