All adults, no matter their age, require a sufficient amount of growth hormone to keep their bodies functioning properly. As essential as GH is to the body, it may come as a surprise to know that the production of this vital chemical messenger declines with age. In this review, we look at the symptoms and impact of Growth Hormone deficiency in adults, along with how it can affect a person’s health, well-being, and quality of life today and in the future.
One of the issues with the effects of HGH deficiency on the body is how it influences other hormones. Growth hormone is the direct stimulator of insulin growth factor 1 (IGF-1) production in the liver. IGF-1 levels are critical to maintain because this hormone not only helps support many of the GH functions in the body, but it is also crucial for helping the body produce nitric oxide.
Growth hormone also influences both testosterone production and spermatogenesis as it helps support the maturation of young sperm cells.
Can low testosterone cause HGH deficiency in adults?
The answer to does low testosterone cause human growth hormone decline is a complicated one. Human Growth Hormone and testosterone have a reciprocal relationship, in that they help stimulate one another’s production. Also, they are both opposed by cortisol, the stress hormone. When Growth Hormone and testosterone levels are low, the body increases cortisol production. If cortisol levels are elevated, sleep becomes elusive. Lack of sleep reduces the secretion of testosterone and HGH at night, causing their levels to decline. Many people who have one of these deficiencies often have both.
What are the effects of HGH deficiency for adults?
The symptoms of Growth Hormone deficiency in adults can lead to some detrimental changes in ways such as:
Many physiological functions rely on growth hormone, including:
- Cell reproduction
- Insulin sensitivity
- Cholesterol regulation
- IGF-1 hormone production
- Sleep regulation
Growth hormone receptors in the brain carry out the following functions:
- Focus support
- Cognitive processing
- Memory storage and recall
- Emotional stability
The symptoms of Growth Hormone deficiency in adults can impact physiological functions of the body and cognitive and emotional performance in the brain.
How HGH Deficiency Affects Adults Health and Well-Being
Health is a significant issue to discuss when looking at the symptoms and impact of HGH deficiency in adults. Hormonal imbalance itself is not necessarily a life-threatening or dangerous condition. However, the influence it can have on a person’s health can lead to side effects that increase the risk of more significant medical concerns. We will speak more about these risks further down in this review.
Right now, we want to discuss how the signs and symptoms of declining HGH levels can influence daily life, including physical and emotional well-being:
- Body And Mind
Growth hormone plays a direct role in many critical physiological and cognitive functions. Adults who have low Growth Hormone levels often find that they are too tired or achy to engage in activities they once enjoyed. They have difficulty focusing for long periods and may forget things of importance – especially on the job. Insomnia is a common issue, which can lead to fatigue, weight gain, and irritability. Changes in body composition and appearance often affect a person’s self-image.
HGH deficiency takes a significant toll on all types of relationships, including those with co-workers who must often pick up the slack caused by a colleague’s lack of energy, frequent illness, or mistakes. In marriage, low sex drive, anxiety, mood swings, and fatigue can stand in the way of a happy and satisfying relationship. Friendships and family interactions tend to suffer as a person may isolate himself or herself socially from others.
- Mood And Emotions
If all the above were not already enough, Growth Hormone decline takes a toll on a person’s mood and emotional state. When the brain’s GH receptor cells do not receive ample growth hormone, depression, increased stress, and irritability often follows.
Most Common Symptoms of Growth Hormone Deficiency in Adults
As we delve headfirst into the symptoms and impact of HGH deficiency in adults, we first examine the most common signs that people can recognize. In many of these cases, it is easy to see why other doctors without adequate hormone training may confuse the symptoms as being associated with aging. Yes, the body does go through changes as we age. The question to answer, however, is how many of these issues are due to hormonal imbalance?
Here are the most common growth hormone deficiency symptoms in adults:
- Weight gain – especially abdominal fat
- Fatigue, lethargy, lack of stamina
- Trouble sleeping
- Low sex drive
- Lack of focus
- Loss of muscle mass
- More visible wrinkles and signs of thinning skin, including sagging
- Joint pains
- Medical concerns over high blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin, or blood sugar levels
- Depression or other mood changes
While this is not a complete listing of symptoms and impact of GH deficiency in adults, it consists of the signs most people notice first. Changes in mood, sexual desire, energy, sleep patterns, and appearance should alert one to the need to speak with a hormone specialist.
Early warning symptoms of GH deficiency in adults may seem like signs of aging, but they may actually be due to declining hormone levels.
Less Common Symptoms of Growth Hormone Deficiency in Adults
Now that we have discussed the first signs of symptoms of HGH deficiency in adults, it is time to look at what else might occur as growth hormone levels decline. Although we list these changes as less common symptoms of growth hormone deficiency, they are very likely to occur when people ignore the changes taking place in their bodies:
- Height shrinkage caused by decreased bone density
- Thinning or balding of the hair
- Brittle nails
- Erectile dysfunction
- Vaginal dryness
- Increased sensitivity to changes in temperature from hot to cold
- Social isolation
- Hot flashes
- Heart problems
- Decreased ability to exercise or reduced results and strength
- Night sweats
- Slow to learn new things
- Increased stress and anxiety
- Reduced motivation, drive, and productivity
Can Low Growth Hormone Lead to a Serious Disease in Adults?
As bad as the day to day symptoms and impact of HGH deficiency in adults might seem, they are nothing when compared to the long-term effects of ignoring the situation and leaving the hormonal imbalance untreated. Men and women with low Human Growth Hormone indeed have an increased risk of developing many other health issues, including but not limited to the following:
- Heart Disease
HGH affects the heart in many ways. First, its decline can lead to a poor LDL to HDL ratio, causing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol to build-up in the arteries (atherosclerosis). The resulting plaque reduces blood flow. If a piece of plaque breaks free from the arterial wall, it can cause a blockage to the heart or brain, resulting in a heart attack or stroke. Decreased cardiac muscle mass (left ventricular wall mass), total and extracellular fluid volume, and impaired cardiac function are common.
Many adults diagnosed with cardiovascular disease (CVD) also have low growth hormone levels, increasing their risk of mortality and morbidity. Since Growth Hormone deficiency is also associated with metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes (all factors that influence cardiovascular disease), further risks to one’s health increase.
- Kidney Disease
Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) suffer from higher morbidity and mortality, often in association with CVD. Many of these adults also have growth hormone and IGF-1 deficiency. They have a higher level of inflammation (C-reactive protein) and reduced bioavailable nitric oxide. Studies have shown that HGH therapy can help reduce inflammation, increase IGF-1 levels, decrease truncal fat mass, and reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality.
- Autoimmune System Diseases
Because of the role of HG Hormone in cellular regeneration (to protect the organs from shrinkage) and immunity, it may increase the risk of developing some autoimmune system diseases. Research in this field is still necessary. Two autoimmune disorders – Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and celiac syndrome risk may heighten – predominantly in females.
- Parkinson’s Disease
Conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases may also have potential links to GH deficiency. In one study of Parkinson’s patients, progressive worsening of Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Score total score was less in those individuals treated with HGH therapy.
FAQ About Related Conditions and Diseases
Can Growth Hormone Deficiency Cause Infertility?
Of all the symptoms and impact of HGH deficiency in adults, infertility is often the least discussed and understood. It is a known fact that growth hormone helps stimulate sperm cell maturation. Men with infertility issues may benefit from HGH therapy. However, human growth hormone also helps women as a small portion of GH is produced by the ovaries, where it helps with monofollicular growth. HGH injections have also been used to help induce ovarian stimulation and improve pregnancy rates in patients who are poor responders to other treatments.
Does HGH Deficiency Lead to Hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when blood sugar levels get too low. The body naturally increases growth hormone production to help stimulate the metabolic breakdown of food for more glucose (blood sugar). As more glucose enters the bloodstream, the pancreas secretes insulin to help the cells take in the glucose. Increased insulin causes a decrease in GH levels.
HGH deficiency decreases the break down of fats and the production of ketones that break down fatty acids. Since growth hormone helps regulate glucose levels, insulin and glucose build up in the blood, causing the cells to become desensitized to their effects. The glucose then goes to the liver for storage as insulin levels increase. As the blood loses glucose, hypoglycemia can occur.
Does Growth Hormone Deficiency Cause Depression?
The symptoms and impact of HGH deficiency in adults can lead to depression in multiple ways. The first is indirectly and is due to all the other changes associated with growth hormone decline. Looking in the mirror and seeing muscle loss, weight gain, wrinkles, thinning hair, sagging skin, and age spots is enough to make anyone depressed. Add to that lack of sleep, fatigue, no sex drive, and impaired brain functions, and depression is likely.
The other way HGH deficiency leads to depression is directly due to critical receptor cells in the brain that regulate mood not getting enough growth hormone. HGH therapy significantly reverses feelings of depression in adults.
Can HGH Deficiency Lead to Diabetes?
As with the previous question about hypoglycemia, HGH deficiency in adults causes elevated levels of insulin and glucose in the bloodstream. Although the liver takes in and stores excess glucose, its availability has an endpoint. Once the liver has no more room, the remaining glucose stays in the bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar levels. That can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes onset.
Can Growth Hormone Deficiency Lead to Osteoporosis?
Growth hormone exerts significant influence on the bones, first through the production of new bone cells (osteoblasts), which replace the old bone cells that die off. HGH therapy improves bone turnover, sending more osteoblasts to the bones to prevent loss and increase bone mineral density.
For additional information about HGH deficiency and its treatment, please contact our hormone clinic for a free consultation.