Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) can be a concerning condition in both adults and children. The good news is that there are treatments available for growth hormone deficiency that can improve quality of life.
Human growth hormone, or HGH, is one of the most important hormones produced by your body. Growth hormone triggers and regulates all of the processes that cause us to grow from children, through adolescence, and into healthy, strong adults. However even when fully grown, HGH continues to play a critical role in your health and wellness.
Growth hormone maintains muscle and bone health. Growth hormone is vital to a healthy metabolism. It is responsible for helping you to build lean muscle and burn fat more efficiently, and therefore is instrumental in helping you to avoid so called “metabolic” conditions such as diabetes and insulin resistance. By helping you to maintain a good fat/muscle ratio, and a healthy metabolism, HGH also lowers your risk of heart disease.
In a person with GHD, this delicate balance can be thrown off, and the first thing to suffer is body composition. As those with GHD lose muscle and gain fat, a downward spiral of poor health ensues.
Growth hormone deficiency occurs when your body does not produce enough HGH. There are basically two kinds of GHD, differentiated by when the condition manifests. Therefore medical professionals describe GHD as either adult onset GHD, also known as, “age-related growth hormone deficiency,” or childhood GHD. Since HGH is produced by the pituitary gland, a drop in HGH levels significant enough to result in GHD, is invariably related to pituitary function.
There are many disease conditions from injury to cancer that can impair the pituitary gland’s ability to produce enough HGH. Certain genetic abnormalities can also lead to GHD.
The signs and symptoms of adult onset GHD and childhood GHD differ in some ways, but overlap in others.
Symptoms of HGH deficiency in adults can include:
Lack of vitality
Loss of strength/fatigue
Reduced muscle mass and declining muscle strength
Weight gain, particularly the “spare tire” of belly fat
Emotional distress such as anxiety and depression
Cognitive difficulties and memory loss
Flaking and cracking skin
In adults, even when there is no apparent injury to, or disease of, the pituitary gland, they can be suffering from a kind of GHD. It is natural for your HGH levels to decrease over time. Once you are over the age of 35, growth hormone level tends to drop at a rate of about 2% per year. In some adults that drop is well tolerated, in others over time, they can begin to exhibit the tiredness, fatigue, muscle loss, and any or all of the symptoms of age-related GHD.
The main symptom of childhood GHD is slowed or impaired growth. In addition to small size, other symptoms of childhood growth hormone deficiency include:
Failure to reach pivotal maturation milestones
Increased belly fat
A look of immaturity, looking younger than their physical age
Failure to lose “baby teeth” on time
Delayed onset of menses in girls, late development of secondary sexual characteristics in boys
What Is the Best Treatment for Growth Hormone Deficiency?
Whether the patient is suffering from growth hormone deficiency as a child, resulting in slow growth, or stunted growth, or age-related GHD, resulting in tiredness, weakness and related symptoms – the best treatment available for GHD is HGH replacement therapy. The goal of HGH replacement therapy is to return your growth hormone levels to where they are right for you optimal health, regardless of your age.
How Is Growth Hormone Therapy Administered?
Actual growth hormone therapy is only available with a doctor’s prescription and only delivered by a course of growth hormone injections.
HGH injections are administered daily. Patients will be taught to self-inject, and provided with kits, similar to those used by diabetics to take insulin shots.
You will probably have to see your growth hormone doctor about every 6 weeks during the course of your HGH replacement therapy, so that he or she can monitor you condition and progress.
How Do I Know If I Have Growth Hormone Deficiency?
If you have been exhibiting the signs and symptoms of growth hormone deficiency, simply assessing the level of HGH present in your blood, is not enough to determine if you are producing enough HGH. You will be given two very specific tests to determine if you have low HGH, a pituitary simulation test, also known as the IGF-1 test, and another test that is for IGF-BP3.
Your body’s normal reaction to the presence of insulin is to release HGH. In these insulin stimulation tests, a controlled amount of insulin, under a doctor’s careful supervision, is injected into your blood stream. If your body fails to release an adequate amounts if growth hormone in response to the presence of insulin, you will be found to be “growth hormone deficient.”
Is HGH Therapy Safe?
Prescription HGH injections are not like taking some falsely labeled “HGH powder.” HGH replacement injections are an actual medical procedure. As with any injectable pharmaceutical, HGH therapy has some risks and side effects. However, with proper monitoring and supervision of your treatment by doctors who are skilled and experienced in hormone replacement therapy (HRT), any side effects of HGH are minimized. Some of the most common side effects of growth hormone deficiency treatment have been fluid retention, and pain in the joints. But these, and any discomforts you may experience from growth hormone therapy, can usually be alleviated by adjusting your dosage.
The “horror stories” that are out there about HGH being dangerous, or even deadly, mostly derive from the illicit use, or abuse of HGH. If you get your growth hormone therapy from qualified and certified practitioners of HRT, growth hormone replacement therapy is generally safe and free of significant risks.
Remember, the goal of GHD treatment is to return your HGH level to what is normal for you and the needs of your body. With careful administration and monitoring, HGH replacement therapy is a safe and effective way to bring you back to your best version of you!