Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a condition that affects many people. It’s estimated that between 5 and 10 percent of individuals ages 20-65 are deficient in GH, although more than 80 percent of these cases go undiagnosed. If you have GHD, it can have an impact on your health and wellness. The good news is that treatment with GH symptoms can be managed safely and effectively through growth hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
What is growth hormone deficiency?
- It is a condition in which the body produces lower-than-normal amounts of growth hormone.
- It is important to know that growth hormone deficiency is not a disease or an illness. Instead, it’s a medical condition involving low growth hormone production levels.
- People with this condition can still live long, healthy lives and enjoy all the benefits of life without being labeled as “disabled.”
People with growth hormone deficiency can experience a variety of symptoms.
Some of these include:
- Low energy levels and fatigue
- Weight gain around the belly (also called central obesity)
- Slow healing from injuries and infections
- Swelling of the hands and feet
- Soft, thick skin that doesn’t stretch much when you pinch
What is GH replacement therapy?
Growth hormone replacement therapy (HRT) treats adults deficient in growth hormone. It’s used to treat adults with GHD and short stature associated with GHD.
GH is a polypeptide manufactured by the pituitary gland that acts as its master gland. The pituitary secretes many hormones into our bloodstream, including growth hormone (GH). GH plays an important role in childhood growth and helps maintain muscle mass and bone strength into adulthood.
How does GH replacement therapy help adults with GHD?
GH replacement therapy can help adults with GHD by:
- increasing growth hormone levels
- improving mood and well-being
- improving appearance (fat reduction, improved muscle tone)
What are the risks of GH replacement therapy in adults with GHD?
The most common side effects of GH replacement therapy are increased blood pressure, fluid retention, and joint pain. These can be controlled by adjusting the dosage as needed. Some patients may also experience carpal tunnel syndrome or carpal bursitis (inflammation of tendons in the wrist).
GH can cause an enlargement of your tongue and lips, which should go away when you stop taking GH.
Rarely, GH replacement therapy causes heart problems, including high blood pressure or heart failure, if it is taken for a long period with too much medication. This is why regular checkups are important while on this treatment plan; they will help you stay healthy while taking growth hormone injections.
If you have diabetes already, there is a higher chance that your diabetes could get worse while taking growth hormone injections than it would if you did not take these medications.
How safe is long-term GH replacement therapy?
Overall, GH replacement therapy is safe, effective, and treatment for adults with GHD. As with all medical treatments, there are potential side effects. The risk of these is low, and your doctor can manage them.
Are there any adverse effects from GH replacement therapy on children and adults who aren’t deficient in GH?
For children, the risks of GH replacement therapy are very real. In addition to the potential for increased insulin resistance and heart disease, there’s also a small risk of a cancerous tumor. This risk is so small that it’s not likely to occur in any single patient, but it’s still there. The same goes for adults who aren’t deficient in GH.
However, although they might experience beneficial effects from treatment, they risk developing problems caused by the overproduction of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).
Growth hormone deficiency can impact adults, but it can be treated safely.
Growth hormone deficiency can affect adults. According to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), growth hormone deficiency has been recognized since 1922. However, it was not until 1985 that human growth hormone (HGH) became commercially available in the United States to treat children with dwarfism and other growth disorders.
In terms of treating adult patients with GH deficiency, there are several options. The first option is to use recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH). This form of HGH is produced using genetically engineered cells that are transformed into living factories for making active HGH molecules; no animal products are used during its production or injection into patients. A second option is to use somatropin, which is a synthetic form of rhGH developed by Genentech Corporation; somatropin differs from rhGH because it contains fewer amino acids than rhGH does so it might be more stable over time and thus safer for long-term use under certain conditions such as hypopituitarism or Prader-Willi syndrome among others.
In summary, GH deficiency can seriously impact an adult’s quality of life. It’s important to understand the benefits and risks of treatment with growth hormone replacement therapy so you can decide whether or not this treatment is right for you.