What are the symptoms and treatment options for growth hormone excess?

Symptom Database

Growth hormone is a vital hormone produced by the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain. It plays a crucial role in regulating growth, metabolism, and body composition. However, when there is an excess of growth hormone in the body, it can lead to various symptoms and health issues. In this article, we will explore the symptoms and treatment options for growth hormone excess, also known as growth hormone disorder.

Symptoms of Excess Growth Hormone

Excess growth hormone can cause a condition called acromegaly in adults and gigantism in children. These conditions are characterized by the abnormal growth of bones and tissues. Here are some common symptoms associated with growth hormone excess:

  • Enlarged hands and feet
  • Facial changes, such as a protruding jaw or enlarged nose
  • Thickened skin
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Increased sweating
  • Headaches
  • Enlarged organs, such as the heart
  • Sleep apnea
  • Impaired vision

It is important to note that the symptoms may vary from person to person, and some individuals may experience only a few of these symptoms.

Treatment Options for Growth Hormone Excess

1. Medications

One of the primary treatment options for growth hormone excess is medication. The most commonly used medication is somatostatin analogs, which work by reducing the production and release of growth hormone. These medications can help control the symptoms and slow down the progression of the condition.

Another medication option is dopamine agonists, which can be effective in some cases. They work by inhibiting the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland.

2. Surgery

In certain cases, surgery may be recommended to remove the tumor or abnormal growth in the pituitary gland that is causing the excess production of growth hormone. This procedure is known as transsphenoidal surgery and is performed through the nose or upper lip, minimizing the need for external incisions.

Surgery is usually considered when medications fail to control the symptoms or when the tumor is large and causing significant complications.

3. Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy may be used as a treatment option for growth hormone excess, particularly when surgery and medications are not effective or feasible. It involves the use of high-energy radiation to destroy or shrink the tumor in the pituitary gland.

However, radiation therapy is often considered a last resort due to potential side effects and the need for long-term monitoring of hormone levels.

Potential Side Effects of Growth Hormone Treatment

While growth hormone treatment can be beneficial in managing growth hormone excess, it is important to be aware of potential side effects. These side effects may vary depending on the individual and the specific treatment approach. Some common side effects include:

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Swelling in the arms and legs
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of certain cancers

It is crucial to discuss the potential risks and benefits of growth hormone treatment with a healthcare professional before starting any treatment regimen.


Growth hormone excess can lead to significant health issues and impact an individual’s quality of life. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking appropriate medical attention is crucial for early diagnosis and effective management. Treatment options may include medications, surgery, or radiation therapy, depending on the severity of the condition. However, it is important to consider the potential side effects of growth hormone treatment and discuss them with a healthcare professional. With proper management and care, individuals with growth hormone excess can lead fulfilling lives and minimize the impact of the condition on their overall well-being.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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