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While it’s easy to understand the importance of growth hormones in children, it may be surprising to know that adults need these hormones too. While they are no longer used by the body to grow taller or heavier, growth hormones serve important functions in adults, including the regulation of protein, lipids and fats, controlling blood sugar levels, and maintaining bone density.
Signs and symptoms.
Many adult patients with growth hormone deficiency experience changes in body composition. This may include an increase in fat, a decrease in muscle mass, and decreased strength and stamina. It can also include mental changes, such as a lack of energy, lack of motivation, and changes in mood. They may also have conditions such as high cholesterol, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), obesity, osteoporosis, or a decreased sensitivity to insulin.
For adults, the causes of growth hormone disorders can include trauma or injury to the brain, radiation therapy, tumors and diseases of the central nervous system.
Diagnosis can be difficult because many of the symptoms are very similar to the normal things people experience as they age. If a doctor suspects a growth hormone disorder, he or she will probably order a series of blood tests to evaluate the levels of various hormones, look for genetic markers, and rule out other conditions that affect metabolism. Typically, growth hormone disorders are diagnosed and treated by an endocrinologist.
Once diagnosed, growth hormone deficiency is treated by injections of synthetic growth hormone. The dose is determined by body weight, with the lowest possible dose given to avoid side effects. Most patients see results in three to six months. While research is still being done, hormone replacement appears to have long-term benefits.
For more information.
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