Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency

Growth hormone (GH) is a protein made in the pituitary gland and passed from there into the blood stream. GH has effects on virtually all the organs of the body, but its primary use during childhood is making children grow.

GH deficiency is usually caused by damage to the pituitary gland or the part of the brain which controls this gland (the hypothalamus). The damage may be due to a tumour or to the effects of treatment for the tumour (surgery or radiotherapy) or to problems with the blood supply to the pituitary gland.

Typical symptoms

  • increase in adipose (fatty) tissue (especially around the waist)
  • decrease in lean body mass (muscle)
  • decrease in strength and stamina, reduction in exercise capacity
  • decrease in bone density, increase in rate of fracture in middle age and beyond
  • changes in blood cholesterol concentrations (increase in LDL and decrease in HDL)
  • excessive tiredness
  • anxiety and depression
  • feelings of social isolation
  • reduction in 'quality of life'
  • increased sensitivity to cold or heat