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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:
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:
Because there are certain risk factors involved some individuals aren’t well suited for GHD treatment. Alternate therapies should be considered if you have:
A battery of tests should be performed to ensure correct diagnosis. Children and adults should undergo comprehensive biochemical testing to include:
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:
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:
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.
As with any medication side effects sometimes occur. These can include:
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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