Growth Hormone: What is it? How is it controlled? Function and Consequences of High and Low Levels of this Hormone

The pituitary gland produces it. It has many functions, including maintaining standard body structure and metabolism.

Growth hormone is released into the bloodstream from the anterior pituitary gland. The pituitary gland also produces other hormones with different functions from growth hormones.


Growth hormone acts in many body parts to promote growth in children. Once the growth plates in the bones (epiphysis) have merged, the growth hormone does not increase the height.

In adults, it does not cause growth, but it helps maintain standard body structure and metabolism, which includes helping to keep blood glucose levels within established levels.

Growth hormone has been linked to well-being, specifically energy levels.

There is evidence that 30-50% of adults with growth hormone deficiency feel tired at a level that impairs their well-being. These adults can benefit from lifelong treatment with growth hormones.

Taking growth hormone as an adult will not increase height.


How is growth hormone controlled?

The growth hormone release is not continuous; it is released in several “bursts” or pulses every three to five hours.

This release is controlled by two other hormones released from the hypothalamus: growth hormone-releasing hormone, which stimulates the pituitary gland to release growth hormone, and somatostatin, which inhibits that release.

Growth hormone levels are increased by sleep, stress, exercise, and low blood glucose levels. They also grow around the time of puberty.

The release of growth hormone is reduced during pregnancy and if the brain detects high growth hormone levels or insulin-like growth factors already in the blood.

What happens if there are high levels of growth hormone?

It is not surprising that too much growth hormone causes too much growth.

In adults, excessive growth hormone over a long period produces a condition known as acromegaly, in which patients have swollen hands and feet and altered facial features.

These patients also have organ enlargement and severe functional disorders, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. More than 99% of cases are due to benign tumors of the pituitary gland, which produce growth hormones.

This condition is more common after middle age when the growth is complete so that the affected people do not get taller.

Very rarely, growth hormone levels can increase in children before they reach their final height, which can cause excessive growth of long bones, making the child abnormally tall. This is commonly known as gigantism.

The overproduction of growth hormone is diagnosed by giving a sugary drink and measuring the growth hormone level in the next few hours. Sugar should reduce the production of growth hormones.

What happens if there are low levels of growth hormone?

Minimal growth hormone results in poor growth in children.

In adults, it causes a reduced sense of well-being, increased fat, increased risk of heart and heart disease, and weak muscles and bones.

The condition may be present from birth, where the cause may be unknown, genetic, or due to an injury to the pituitary gland (during development or at birth).

Growth hormone deficiency can also develop in adults due to brain injury, a pituitary tumor, or damage to the pituitary gland (for example, after brain surgery or radiation therapy for cancer treatment).

The primary treatment replaces the growth hormone with injections, either once a day or several times a week.

In the past, treatment with growth hormone stopped at the end of growth. Growth hormone contributes to bone and muscle mass by reaching the best possible level and reducing fat mass during the development of an adult.