OHSU

Growth Hormone (GH) Deficiency

Growth hormone deficiency happens when your pituitary gland does not make enough growth hormone (GH). This is usually caused by a tumor pressing on the pituitary gland. The pressure can damage the gland and keep it from making enough GH.

In children, GH is important for normal growth and development. Children whose bodies don't make enough GH are shorter than normal.

In adults, GH is important for:

  • Heart function
  • Bones
  • Processing protein, carbohydrates and fat
  • Feeling generally healthy

Adults with GH deficiency can have:

  • Fatigue (being tired all the time)
  • Bone loss
  • Higher risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Feeling depressed or isolated

The treatment for GH deficiency is medication by injection (shot). You give yourself a shot every day with a very small needle. You might have symptoms when you start taking this medication. They can include:

  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision

These symptoms usually get better over time, as your body adjusts to the new GH level. To control symptoms, your doctor will do tests and adjust your medication dose as needed.