Growth hormone (GH) deficiency in adults
What is it?
Growth hormone (GH) is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, a small gland located inside the skull, just behind the nose, in the cavity called the Turkish saddle. In children, its main function is to regulate growth in length. The stimulating effect on growth begins at birth and ends after the replacement of the cartilaginous growth plate with solid bone tissue. In a child, a lack of growth hormone interferes with the normal growth process, and this leads to short stature in adulthood. Even in adulthood, growth hormone performs important functions that are no longer associated with height, but with maintaining the integrity of the body.
Causes and risk factors
Adults at risk of growth hormone deficiency:
- people with growth hormone deficiency (congenial or acquired) in childhood;
- people who have undergone pituitary surgery;
- people undergoing radiation therapy of the brain (especially the pituitary gland);
- people with existing or previous inflammatory, traumatic and other pituitary pathologies.
Which are the symptoms?
Clinical manifestations of growth hormone deficiency include:
- increase in body fat mass;
- decrease in muscle mass;
- increase in the level of cholesterol circulating in the blood;
- decrease in the respiratory function;
- decrease in the contractility of the heart;
- increased risk of ischemic, cerebrovascular, and cardiovascular diseases;
How is it diagnosed?
How is it treated?
Growth hormone deficiency in adults can be diagnosed with the help of special laboratory tests, which are carried out on an outpatient basis. Growth hormone deficiency can be cured by injecting a hormone produced in the laboratory that is completely identical to the hormone present in the human body. For many years, growth hormone therapy has been used in children with documented growth retardation. More recently, therapy has also become available to adults. The Ministry of Health has listed clinics that can prescribe growth hormone-based therapy, and the San Raphaele Hospital in Milan is among them. The hormone is administered subcutaneously once a day.
Where do we treat it?
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