Treatment for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Deficiency

Treatment for Growth Hormone Deficiency

As growth hormone deficiency symptoms can mimic several other different hormonal imbalances, correct diagnosis is vital. A battery of tests should be performed to rule out other possible conditions that mimic growth hormone deficiency including FreeT4, thyroid stimulating hormone deficiency, low cortisol levels, celiac antibodies, and others.

Standard treatment for growth hormone deficiency (GHD) always involves injections of a tailor-made formula of one of two types of growth hormones. Treatment protocols and accompanying therapies depend on different factors. These include:

  • Age
  • Overall health and medical history
  • Extent and severity of condition
  • Tolerance of treatment
  • Treatment expectations
  • Patient choice and compliance

Expected Goals of Treating Growth Hormone Deficiency

The goals of treatment will depend on the age and desired outcome by both the patient and the endocrinologist. If treating a child, then accelerated growth is sought. Having height accelerate past the lowest third percentile with the accompanying maturation of face, tooth eruption, lengthening bones, and possible onset of puberty depending on age, helps with quality of life and the child’s sense of well-being. The earlier treatment begins, the better chance the child will have of attaining normal or near-normal adult height.

Goals of treatment for an adult may be subtler but no less life altering. These can include:

  • Restoration of energy
  • Improved metabolism
  • Restoration of healthy body shape
  • Reduced amount of total body fat
  • Improved strength
  • Improved exercise tolerance
  • Increased sense of general well-being and quality of life

Because there are certain risk factors involved some individuals aren’t well suited for GHD treatment. Alternate therapies should be considered if you have:

  • Tumors anywhere on your body
  • Cancer
  • Another serious illness
  • Severe breathing problems due to asthma, emphysema or other lung related disorders
  • Multiple injuries
  • Diabetes

Tests Used for Diagnosing GHD

A battery of tests should be performed to ensure correct diagnosis. Children and adults should undergo comprehensive biochemical testing to include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) with differential platelets
  • Thyroid panel
  • Comprehensive metabolic panel
  • IGF-I
  • Lutenizing hormone
  • HbA1c
  • Testosterone levels
  • Follicle stimulating hormone
  • Estrogen levels in females
  • Androstenedione

These will reveal any concerns relating to testosterone, thyroxin, and androgenic steroids, genetic defects that interfere with secretion, uptake, and use of growth hormone, and any other diseases or disorders of metabolism.

The next step includes pituitary stimulating tests to determine if the gland is capable of producing growth hormones. Testing for certain compounds such as zinc, selenium, and magnesium also help narrow the diagnosis options.

Adult GHD is often harder to pinpoint due to the masking effects of several other hormone imbalance conditions. Tests include looking for:

  • Lipid imbalance
  • Athersclerosis
  • Obesity
  • Increased LDL cholesterol
  • Reduced insulin sensitivity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • MRI scan to determine any structural abnormalities or tumors
  • Pulmonary function tests to reveal diminished lung capacity
  • Bone scan to reveal osteoporosis

Treatments for Growth Hormone Deficiency

Treatments for Growth Hormone Deficiency

After determining the specific deficiency, your endocrinologist will prescribe injections, administered just under the skin of one of two different types of hormones. If other pituitary issues coexist, they may need to be treated first for GHD treatments to be fully effective.

Recombinant Human Growth Hormone (rHGH) is a purified growth hormone using recombinant DNA technology. This is the hormone most often used for children. Generic and trade names include:

  • Somatropin
  • Genotropin
  • Humatrope
  • Nutropin
  • Saizen
  • Somatrem
  • Protopin

Depending on growth response, the dosage may range anywhere from five to seven times a week, once every two weeks or once a month. Those taking diabetes medication or steroids may not see the desired results due to interactions so GH treatment may need to be postponed until other options are sought.

Growth hormone-releasing hormone under the generic or trade names of Sermorelin or Geref, treat failure of the hypothalamus to secrete growth hormone-releasing hormone. Administered through daily shallow injections under the skin or through a nasal spray, children and adults often see safe and effective results.

Side Effects of GHD Treatment

As with any medication side effects sometimes occur. These can include:

  • Diabetes
  • Headaches
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Fluid retention
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • High blood pressure

Close monitoring of GH levels is important to ensure the lowest dose of rHGH or GHRH is used for treatment to prevent compromising side effects.

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