Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) results in abnormal growth in human beings. This article provides the reasons and treatment options available for this deficiency.
Hormones are chemicals released by the endocrine gland in the blood. They are very essential for normal functioning of the body. Imbalance in their composition can lead to abnormalities and disorders. The deficiency of growth hormone is one such condition that arises when the pituitary gland does not produce enough hormone. It is commonly observed in children, but, may also be found in adults.
GHD is caused due to partial or total lack of production of growth hormone in human beings. It can be a congenital or an acquired condition. Heredity or genetics is one factor that can cause this condition in infants and children. On the other hand, injury or infection to the pituitary gland, brain tumor, surgery, radiation to the brain, lack of oxygen at birth, abnormalities in the hormone receptors, etc., are believed to be the other causes.
As there is a deficiency in the hormone that is responsible for growth, stunted growth is one of the most obvious and prominent symptoms. No noticeable growth may be observed in case of babies and infants up to 2-3 years. Teeth development is also delayed in babies. Later, the average growth per year observed is around 2-3 centimeters. Children also fail to gain weight. They appear smaller and shorter than other children of their age group. However, they do have normal intelligence and body proportions. Growth hormone deficiency in children may also lead to delayed or complete absence of puberty in the later life. The following symptoms are observed in adults:
- Lack of energy
- Decreased muscle mass
Hormone tests, blood test, MRI, etc., can help in diagnosing this condition. The doctor may even inquire about the child/person’s diet, exercise habits, other family members’ height and weight, etc. An X-ray may be advised to check the development of bones. MRI is very helpful to determine abnormalities in the brain and the pituitary gland.
It is possible to enhance the growth of children using synthetic human growth hormone (somatropin) or hormone injections. Effects of this medication may vary from person to person. Similar to other hormone replacement therapies and medications, even this treatment method comes with its share of side effects. Depression, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, pain in joints, abdominal pain, etc., are some of the potential side effects. Taking complete rest, adequate sleep, etc., can help in treating lack of energy or weakness.
As a concluding note, it should be remembered that early identification of the deficiency in children can help in acquiring quick treatment, which will later help in normal growth and development. Take care!
Disclaimer: This article is not to be used as a substitute for doctor’s consultation and treatment. It is meant for informative purposes only.