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Growth Hormone Tests - Uses, Preparation, Risks, and Test results

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Growth Hormone Tests - Uses, Preparation, Risks, and Test results

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Growth hormone tests help determine the levels of growth hormone in the body. Read the below article to learn more about the tests.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Mohammad Rajja

Published At July 28, 2022
Reviewed AtJune 10, 2024

What Are Growth Hormone Tests?

The pituitary gland, a small pea-sized gland in the skull base, produces many vital hormones that regulate various body functions. Growth hormone (GH), or human growth hormone, is one of the essential hormones produced by the pituitary, responsible for the normal growth of bones and muscles and aids in metabolism. High or low levels of growth hormones can lead to an imbalance in normal development. Therefore, growth hormone tests are done to determine GH levels in the body.

The levels of GH fluctuate throughout the day; therefore, these tests determine the levels of proteins and hormones related to GH production.

What Are the Other Names of Growth Hormone Tests?

The other names of GH tests are the following:

  • Somatotropin test.

  • Human growth hormone test.

  • GH test.

  • Growth hormone stimulation test.

  • Growth hormone suppression test.

What Are the Uses of Growth Hormone Tests?

Growth hormone tests diagnose GH disorders like acromegaly, gigantism, and GH deficiency.

  • Acromegaly: This condition affects adults who produce high amounts of GH. They present with enlarged hands, feet, facial features, and thick bones.

  • Gigantism: Gigantism affects children. It is a rare disorder due to excess GH production in childhood. As a result, the children are tall compared to their peers and have large hands and feet.

  • GH Deficiency: GH helps in normal growth and development. A deficiency of the hormone can hamper growth in children. In adults, GH deficiency causes decreased bone and muscle mass.

When Are Growth Hormone Tests Advised?

GH deficiency or excess leads to GH disorders. Therefore, the doctor advises growth hormone tests when the patient presents the symptoms.

Acromegaly Symptoms in Adults:

  • Large facial features.

  • Deepening of voice.

  • Thick bones.

  • Oily skin.

  • Body odor.

  • Irregular menstrual periods in females.

  • Erectile dysfunction in males.

Gigantism Symptoms in Children:

  • Large hands, feet, and head.

  • Increase in growth compared to peers.

  • Obesity.

GH Deficiency Symptoms in Children:

  • Slow growth when compared to peers.

  • Short arms and legs.

  • Lower than average height and weight.

  • Delayed puberty in girls.

  • Small penis in boys.

Adults show symptoms of decreased bone and muscle mass.

How to Be Prepared for a Growth Hormone Test?

The following steps need to be followed before going for GH tests:

  • Fasting: The child is restricted from taking any food or drinks past midnight or at least 12 hours before the test day. However, the child can drink plain water.

  • Avoid Certain Medications: The doctor must be informed about the child's medicines for other conditions. The doctor may suggest stopping a few drugs based on the test requirement.

  • Take Steps to Pass the Time: The test takes a few hours to complete. Books, videos, or games help the child to get distracted and co-operate with the procedure.

  • Avoid Vigorous Exercise: The test results can alter in the case of exercise. Hence, it is recommended to avoid vigorous activity at least ten hours before the test.

  • Comfortable Dressing: Loose dressing helps the patients to be more comfortable during the test.

What Happens During the GH Test?

The doctor may suggest a GH stimulation test or a GH suppression test based on the symptoms.

1. GH Stimulation Test:

This test diagnoses GH deficiency. A health care worker will collect a blood sample from a vein in the arm. Anesthetic cream is used in children before using the needle to numb the unpleasant sensation. A needle is then inserted, and a small quantity of blood is collected into a vial or a test tube. Then, a medicine that stimulates the pituitary gland to release growth hormone will be administered using an IV (intravenous) line. Blood samples are collected over two hours. The child does not feel pain during the subsequent collection of blood as it is withdrawn through the IV line. Finally, the collected samples are tested to check for an increase in the GH levels.

2. GH Suppression Test:

This test diagnoses GH excess. A health care worker will collect a blood sample from a vein in the arm. A needle is inserted, and a small quantity of blood is collected into a vial or a test tube, after which the patient is asked to drink a solution containing water and glucose. Two more samples are collected after drinking the solution for one to two hours. The blood samples are checked for a decrease in GH levels.

Are There Any Risks to the GH Tests?

Slight redness and pain may be noted at the injection site that usually subsides within a few minutes. The risk of drinking a sugar solution is also negligible.

What Do the Test Results Indicate?

If the growth hormone levels do not rise during the GH stimulation test, it indicates a GH deficiency. The treatment for GH deficiency includes synthetic growth hormone injections given to the child every day at bedtime. The treatment is continued till the child reaches adult height. Most children benefit from the treatment and show an increase in the height of up to 4 inches in the first year of therapy. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to attain expected growth and development.

Suppose the GH levels do not decrease during the GH suppression test; if the patient has gigantism or acromegaly, the cause is a tumor in the pituitary that produces excess hormones. Surgical removal of the tumor is the indicated treatment. The doctor may suggest a combination of surgery, medications, and radiation in a few cases.

What Are the Other Tests to Determine the GH Levels?

The health care providers may sometimes order a few more tests to determine the GH levels accurately. The tests include:

  • IGF-1 Test: GH levels in the body are managed by a hormone called IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth factor 1). The levels of IGF-1 remain stable throughout the day, making it easy to diagnose the GH levels more accurately.

  • IGBP-3 Test: IGBP-3 (Insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 3) acts as a carrier to IGF-1. The test is used to determine GH excess as well as deficiency.


The doctors assess various factors like medical history, surgery, or radiation to the brain to treat other conditions and disorders related to other pituitary hormone insufficiencies to go for GH tests. An early diagnosis and start of therapy can positively impact the overall treatment outcome. Regular check-ups and monitoring of the levels are suggested to control any further fluctuations of the growth hormone.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Tests for Growth Hormone?

Growth hormone testing in the blood is done by taking a blood sample and measuring the level of growth hormone in the sample. This is done by using a sensitive test called the immunoassay. The results can provide insight into the function of the pituitary gland and the health of the body's endocrine system.


How to Know if the Growth Hormone Is Deficient?

A blood test is used to diagnose growth hormone deficiency. It measures the levels of growth hormone and other related hormones in the bloodstream. It is usually done in conjunction with other tests to confirm the diagnosis.


Is There a Blood Test for Growth Hormone?

A blood test that measures the amount of growth hormone in the blood. The test involves drawing a blood sample from a vein in the arm and then sending it to a laboratory to analyze the serum growth hormone.


How Much Does It Cost for a Growth Hormone Blood Test?

The cost for a growth hormone depends on the sort of test being administered. Tests will differ. Generally, the cost for a growth hormone test ranges from $ 100 to $ 400, with additional fees for lab tests and doctor visits.


At What Age Growth Hormone Is Tested?

Growth hormone testing can be performed at any age. However, it is most commonly used to diagnose growth hormone deficiency in children. It is usually done during the late childhood years when growth has slowed or stopped. A doctor may also recommend testing for adults with signs and symptoms of a growth hormone disorder.


Which Food Is Good for Growth Hormone?

Consume foods high in amino acids, like eggs, milk, beef, pork, turkey, soybeans, and chickpeas, that stimulate the production of growth hormone with the help of L-arginine.


How to Increase Growth Hormone?

To increase growth hormone levels, eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Get adequate sleep, as this helps the body to produce growth hormones. Reduce stress levels, as stress hormones can interfere with the production of growth hormones. Speak to your doctor about supplements, such as Vitamin D, which may help.


Can Growth Hormone Deficiency Be Cured?

Injectable growth hormone can be used to treat growth hormone deficiency. Recombinant human growth hormone, which is usually administered daily. This treatment can help reduce the symptoms of the deficiency and can restore normal growth and development in most cases.


What Could Be the Causes of Low Growth Hormone?

Low growth hormone can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetic abnormalities, pituitary gland tumors, head trauma, radiation therapy, and malnutrition. Other causes may include certain medications and chronic diseases, such as kidney or liver failure.


Can a Urine Test Detect GH?

Yes, urine tests can detect GH (growth hormone), as well as other hormones such as cortisol, testosterone, and estradiol. Urine tests are used to measure levels of hormones related to fertility, adrenal function, and other health issues. They are also used to detect hormone imbalances and monitor treatment progress.


What Is a Hormone Blood Test Called?

A hormone blood test is a medical procedure that determines the blood's hormone levels. It is also known as endocrine testing, and it is used to diagnose hormonal imbalances, evaluate symptoms of hormone-related conditions, and monitor the effectiveness of hormone treatments.


Is Growth Hormone Expensive?

Growth hormones can be expensive, depending on the type and dosage prescribed by a physician. Treatment with growth hormones can be several hundred to a few thousand dollars per month.. It is important to discuss the cost of treatment with a doctor before starting any hormone therapy.


Is High Growth Hormone Good?

High levels of growth hormone are beneficial as it aids in maintaining muscular mass in body and bone strength, as well as regulating metabolism and body composition. It also helps to promote healthy skin, nails, and hair and can improve energy levels.


Is Treatment With Growth Hormone Safe?

Growth hormone treatment is generally considered safe when used as prescribed. It is important to follow the doctor's instructions and be monitored for side effects. Commonly reported side effects are joint pain, fluid retention, and high cholesterol.


What Does Late Growth Mean?

Late growth is usually considered to be the period of time between ages 18 to 25 when the body's growth plates are still open and the body is still developing. During this period, individuals may experience significant changes in height, weight, and body shape.


Does Vitamin D Impacts Growth Hormone?

Vitamin D has been associated with increased growth hormone production. Supplementing with vitamin D has been shown in studies to increase growth hormone levels in both adults and children. However, further research is needed to determine the effects of Vitamin D on growth hormones in the long term.


Does Fasting Increase Growth Hormone?

Fasting can increase growth hormone levels in the body. Studies have shown that fasting for periods of 24 hours or longer can increase growth hormone levels by up to five times. This can have a positive effect on muscle growth and fat loss.
Dr. Mohammad Rajja
Dr. Mohammad Rajja

General Practitioner


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