Human Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone, produced by the pituitary gland, spurs growth in children and adolescents. It also helps to regulate body composition, body fluids, muscle and bone growth, sugar and fat metabolism, and possibly heart function.
Human growth hormone uses
Synthetic human growth hormone was developed in 1985 and approved by the FDA for specific uses in children and adults.
In children, HGH injections are approved for treating short stature of unknown cause as well as poor growth due to a number of medical causes, including:
Turner’s syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects a girl’s development
Prader-Willi syndrome, an uncommon genetic disorder causing poor muscle tone, low levels of sex hormones, and a constant feeling of hunger
Chronic kidney disease
HGH deficiency or insufficiency
Children born small for gestational age
Working of Human growth hormone
Our bones need enough growth hormone during our childhood and adolescence in order to lengthen to adult proportions.
Growth hormone prompts our liver to make a substance called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1).
This and other similar compounds are involved in bone growth.
Growth hormone for children
Some children lack sufficient natural growth hormone to grow to their full height.
Taking synthesised growth hormone can help them reach their full height.
For example, children may be prescribed human growth hormone in cases of poor growth due to growth hormone deficiency, Turner’s syndrome, and kidney failure.
However, research suggests that a child with normal levels of growth hormone, who takes the synthesised version, will not grow any taller than they would have naturally, unless they take very large amounts.
Children who are experiencing stunted or slowed growth should have their natural growth hormone levels checked by medical professionals before they are prescribed any medication for their condition.
Side effects of Human growth hormone
Possible side effects of HGH use include:
Nerve, muscle, or joint pain
Swelling due to fluid in the body’s tissues (edema)
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Numbness and tingling of the skin
High cholesterol levels
Acromegaly and growth hormone
Acromegaly is a disorder caused by excess levels of growth hormone, most commonly as a result of a tumour in that person’s pituitary gland.
It causes an irreversible overgrowth of bones, particularly those of the face, hands and feet.\
The person’s skin is also affected and becomes thick, coarse and hairy.
Other side effects include high blood pressure and heart disease.
If the tumour occurs in childhood, then increased height may occur leading to gigantism.
Long-term use of synthetic growth hormone can also cause acromegaly, but not gigantism.
This is because it is impossible for an adult to grow taller using synthetic growth hormone.
The ends of the long bones (epiphyses) in the mature skeleton are fused in adults.
High doses of growth hormone can only thicken the person’s bones rather than lengthen them.
Any increase in muscle size due to use of synthetic growth hormone is actually the result of an increase in connective tissue, which does not contribute to muscle strength.
For this reason, use of synthetic growth hormone does not lead to increase muscle strength.
In fact, in the long term, muscle weakness (including weakness of the heart) can be a result.
Treatment for abuse of synthetic growth hormone
Giving up synthetic growth hormone can be extremely difficult for adults whose positive body image depends on looking large and muscular.
Some users continue to take the hormone, even though it is affecting their health and wellbeing.
Counselling may help you to stop using synthetic growth hormone.
See your doctor for information and referral, or contact an alcohol and other drug service in your area.