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What does GHRH do? Growth hormone is typically identified with the growth of long bones during childhood and adolescent growth spurts.
However, it has an influence on numerous body functions in addition to the growth of long bones. Human growth hormone (also known simply as GH or somatotropin) is responsible for a number of activities and processes in the human body. Just a handful of those include:
Growth hormone is most prevalent in the bloodstream during adolescence. After the body has finished growing, at least in regard to height, it is still important in all of the above processes.
Growth hormone is produced in the pituitary gland, a very small gland located deep in the brain. It receives instructions to increase or decrease growth hormone by the hypothalamus gland, also known as the hypothalamic region of the brain.
Where does the hypothalamus gland come in? And why is it associated with the pituitary gland?
Think of it as a thermometer of sorts. The hypothalamus region is responsible for the maintenance of autonomic functions in the body such as body temperature, breathing rate, heart rate, and fluid balances. Hormone balances are also included in its oversight.
How does the hypothalamus gland send such instructions to the pituitary? When the hypothalamus gland senses that growth hormone levels need to be increased, it releases a neurohormone called growth hormone-releasing hormone or GHRH. This hormone stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete growth hormone into the bloodstream.
If levels are adequate or even getting too high, the hypothalamus gland will send another neurohormone messenger (somatostatin) to the pituitary gland to reduce secretion of growth hormone. The pituitary and the hypothalamic region of the brain are closely associated and together make sure that not only growth hormone, but other hormones stay balanced. Find out more here.
In some cases, a genetic defect, an injury to the brain, surgery or cancer and cancer fighting therapies like radiation treatments can affect the health and wellness of the pituitary and hypothalamus glands.
Because these two glands work in conjunction when it comes to hormone production and levels in the body (and a number of other functions), any injury to either of these two glands can contribute to a number of hormonal deficiencies.
Growth hormone deficiencies in children are often identified visually. For example, a child who fails to achieve growth at the same rate of peers in his or her age group. Adult deficiencies may not have an effect on height, but may come with their own signs and symptoms.
A sign is something that can be observed, while a symptom is something that a person feels. Some of the most common signs of adult growth hormone deficiency and lack of proper function of growth hormone-releasing hormone:
Some of the most common symptoms of clinically diagnosed adult growth hormone deficiency include:
Growth hormone-releasing hormone is important in all stages of life. While our hormone levels naturally begin to decline as we age, it’s also important to try to maintain levels and prevent them from dipping too low. This is done through pituitary gland support.
To diagnose low growth hormone levels that affect quality of life, a doctor may recommend one or two tests to assess the function of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Two of the most common to determine levels of Somatropin releasing hormone include:
Both are done through blood draws. If you’re experiencing changes in body composition or energy levels and even mental focus or emotions, schedule a visit with your doctor. Discuss growth hormone-releasing hormone function as well as overall endocrine function (corticotropin, thyrotropin, gonadotropin) and levels as you age and ask about options in the event your growth hormone levels are low.
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