Growth hormone (GH) is one of many hormones produced by the pituitary gland in your brain which is also known as human growth hormone (HGH) or somatotropin.GH plays a crucial role in normal human growth and development especially in children and adolescents as can levels of growth hormone Which is higher or lower than it should be, leading to health problems in both children and adults. If your doctor suspects that your body may be producing too much or too little of growth hormone, he will order tests to measure the levels of growth hormone in the blood and this will help identify any problems related to With GH, allowing your doctor to make a diagnosis and determine the best course of treatment for you.
What is growth hormone deficiency?
Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) occurs when the pituitary gland does not produce enough growth hormone, and this condition affects children more than adults, where the pituitary gland is a small gland the size of a pea and is located at the base of the skull and secretes eight hormones, some of these hormones control thyroid activity and degree Body temperature. Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) occurs in 1 in 7,000 births.
You may be concerned if your child does not meet the appropriate height and weight growth standards as growth hormone deficiency can be treated and often children diagnosed early recover very well but if the condition is left untreated, the condition may lead to higher than average height and delayed puberty because Your body still needs growth hormone after you finish puberty. Once you reach adulthood, growth hormone maintains body composition and metabolism, and adults can also develop GHD, but this is not common.
What causes growth hormone deficiency?
Children with cleft palates or cleft palates often have underdeveloped pituitary glands, so they are more likely to have GHD deficiency. In some children and adults, serious head injuries, infections, and radiation treatments can cause GHD deficiency. This is called acquired growth hormone deficiency (AGHD).
Symptoms of growth hormone deficiency
Children with GHD deficiency are shorter than their normal peers, have younger, rounder faces. They may also be plump or have “baby fat” around the abdomen, even though their body proportions are normal.
If GHD deficiency develops later in the child’s life as a result of a brain injury or tumor, its main symptoms include delayed puberty and in some cases sexual development stops. Many adolescents with GHD suffer from low self-esteem due to delayed growth such as short stature or slow rate Maturity, for example, young women may not show large breasts, and the voices of young men may not change to become manly at the same rate as they do for their natural peers.
Decreased bone strength is another symptom of growth hormone deficiency that may lead to more frequent fractures, especially in the elderly. People with low levels of growth hormone may feel tired and lack stamina and may suffer sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.
A variety of psychological symptoms can occur, including:
- Lack of focus.
- Poor memory.
- Episodes of anxiety or emotional distress.
Adults with GHD deficiency usually have high levels of fats in the blood and high cholesterol. This may not be due to a poor diet, but to changes in the body’s metabolism due to low levels of growth hormone. Adults with GHD deficiency are at a higher risk for diabetes and heart disease.
How is growth hormone deficiency diagnosed?
Your child’s doctor will look for signs of GHD deficiency. If your child is not achieving the appropriate height and weight milestones, he will ask you about your growth rate when you approached puberty, as well as about the growth rates of your other children. If he suspects GHD deficiency, a number of tests can confirm the diagnosis as well. A blood test can measure growth hormone in the body however your levels of growth hormone fluctuate greatly throughout the day and night.
Growth plates are the tissues developing at each end of the bones of your arm and legs where the growth plates fuse together upon completion of development and an X-ray on your child’s hand can indicate the level of bone growth. Kidney and thyroid function tests can also determine how the body produces and uses growth hormone. If your doctor suspects a tumor or other damage to the pituitary gland, he may ask you to have an MRI scan, which gives a detailed look into the brain.
Growth hormone levels are often checked in adults who have a history of pituitary disorders, have a brain injury, or require brain surgery.The test can also determine whether the pituitary gland condition is present at birth or caused by an injury or tumor.
How is growth hormone deficiency treated?
In the mid-1980s, synthetic growth hormones were used with great success to treat children and adults with growth hormone deficiency. Before these synthetic hormones were used, natural growth hormones were used from cadavers for treatment where growth hormone was given by injection directly into the body’s fatty tissue, such as the back From the arms, thighs or buttocks as it is an effective daily treatment.
Side effects of this treatment are generally minor but may include:
- Redness at the injection site.
- Hip pain.
- Curvature of the spine (scoliosis).
In rare cases, long-term injections of growth hormone may contribute to the development of diabetes, especially in people with a family history of the disease.
Long-term treatment of growth hormone deficiency
Children with congenital GHD deficiency are often treated with the same growth hormone as an injection until they reach puberty.Children who have very little growth hormone in their youth will naturally start producing enough when they enter adulthood, yet some still spend a long time. Very in treatment, and this period may reach throughout their life, as your doctor can determine whether you need continuous injections by monitoring the hormone levels in the blood or not.
How are the levels of growth hormone in your blood tested?
There are several different types of GH tests and the specific test protocol varies depending on the test your doctor orders as with all medical examinations, but it is important to follow all preparation instructions from your health care team and in general, for GH tests, your doctor will ask you to:
- Stop taking biotin or vitamin B7 at least 12 hours before the test.
- Stop taking some prescription medications a few days before the test as they are likely to interfere with the test results.
- For some tests, your doctor may provide additional preparation instructions.
It is common for people to have HGH levels outside the typical range, so HGH tests are not routinely performed.If your doctor believes that the levels of HGH in your body may be abnormal, they will likely order one or more of the following tests.
GH serum test
A serum GH test is used to measure the amount of GH in your blood and when blood is drawn for the test, a health care professional will use a needle to collect a sample of your blood. The test itself is fairly routine and does not carry much discomfort or risks as the blood sample will be sent to the laboratory for analysis, and the results of the GH serum test show your doctor the level of GH in your blood at the time your blood sample was taken.However, this information may not be sufficient to help. Your doctor makes a diagnosis because the levels of GH in your body naturally rise and fall throughout the day.
Insulin-like growth factor IGF-1 test
The insulin-like growth factor test (IGF-1 test) is often ordered at the same time as the serum growth hormone test because if you have excess or deficiency of growth hormone, you will also have higher or lower than normal levels of IGF-1.
The main advantage of the IGF-1 test is that, unlike the GH test, its levels remain stable and only one blood sample is required for both tests, and the GH and IGF-1 serum test does not usually provide your doctor with sufficient information to make a diagnosis. These tests are usually used for testing so that your doctor can determine what If more tests are needed. If your doctor suspects that your body is producing too much or too little growth hormone, he or she will likely order either a growth hormone suppression test or a growth hormone stimulation test.
GH inhibition test
The growth hormone suppression test helps your doctor confirm whether your body is producing too much growth hormone and for this test a health care professional will use a needle or IV to take a blood sample. Then you will be asked to drink a standard solution that contains glucose, which is a type of sugar.
This will taste slightly sweet and may come in different flavors as your healthcare professional will draw several more samples of your blood at specific intervals within two hours after drinking the solution, after which these samples will be sent to the laboratory for analysis. In most people, glucose reduces the production of growth hormone as the lab will check your hormone levels against the levels expected at each test period.
GH stimulation test
The growth hormone stimulation test helps your doctor diagnose an increase or decrease in the production of growth hormone. In this test, a health care professional generally uses an intravenous injection to take an initial blood sample and then gives you a drug that stimulates your body to secrete growth hormone.
The healthcare professional will monitor you and take several other blood samples at specific intervals over the course of two hours after which the samples will be sent to the laboratory and compared to the levels of growth hormone expected at each time point after taking the stimulant.
The cost of GH tests
The cost of GH tests varies depending on your insurance coverage, the facility in which the tests are performed, and the laboratory that is used to perform the test, but the simplest tests are the GH serum and IGF-1 tests, which only require blood drawn. The typical cost for each of these tests is about $ 70 if the tests are done Order it directly from the laboratory. Actual costs may vary depending on how much your healthcare team charges for services, such as drawing blood and sending it to the laboratory.