Growth Hormone Deficiency in Adults Clinical Presentation

Updated: Jun 17, 2022
  • Author: Mohsen S Eledrisi, MD, FACP, FACE; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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History and Physical Examination


Patients with growth hormone (GH) deficiency usually have a history of pituitary tumors that may have been treated with surgery or radiation, or they may have had a history of head trauma. Some patients also have manifestations of deficiency of other pituitary hormones, such as gonadal, adrenal, and thyroid hormones. [15] About 15-20% of cases involve transitioning of childhood GH deficiency into adulthood. [13]

The symptoms of GH deficiency in adults are often nonspecific. Reported symptoms include low physical and mental energy, decreased muscle strength and exercise tolerance, increased weight or difficulty losing weight, poor memory, emotional instability, impaired sleep, and decreased quality of life. [15, 16] Some patients are asymptomatic.

Physical examination

Most patients with GH deficiency have a normal physical examination. Some patients may have decreased muscle strength as well as reduced skeletal muscle and lean body mass but increased fat mass, mainly in the abdominal region. [15, 16, 17, 18]