A growth hormone (GH) test measures the amount of human growth hormone (GH) in the blood. GH is made by the pituitary gland and is needed for growth. It plays an important role in how the body uses food for energy (metabolism). The amount of GH in the blood changes during the day and is affected by exercise, sleep, emotional stress, and diet.
Too much GH during childhood can cause a child to grow larger than normal (gigantism). Too little GH during childhood can cause a child to grow less than normal (dwarfism). Both conditions can be treated if found early.
In adults, too much GH is caused by a noncancerous tumor of the pituitary gland (adenoma). Too much GH can cause bones of the face, jaw, hands, and feet to grow larger than normal (acromegaly).
Growth hormone can cause the release of other substances (factors) that affect growth and metabolism. One of these is insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). When the GH level is very high, the IGF-1 level is also very high. A test for IGF-1 may also be done to confirm high GH levels.
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