A medical treatment seeing more use today (partly due to the increase in the aging population) than in the past is HGH therapy for adults. Human growth hormone injections are safe when used to treat growth hormone deficiency (GHD) in adults and children. However, the abuse of this treatment, often by athletes and bodybuilders, can lead to some significant growth hormone therapy side effects. In this review, we look at why and how adverse reactions of HGH treatment occur, who can benefit from HGH therapy, and how to identify side effects.
HGH replacement therapy side effects are rare in adults properly diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency. An accurate diagnosis consists of the following steps:
- Medical consultation and follow-up
- Blood analysis
- Physical examination
- Health history review
Each step plays a critical role in the diagnosis and safe treatment of adult growth hormone deficiency (AGHD). The use of supplemental human growth hormone is only safe when a deficiency is present and causing symptoms associated with the decline.
To help avoid any potential growth hormone therapy side effects, do not use this medication except as prescribed by a hormone specialist.
Growth hormone therapy side effects rarely occur when adults use HGH injections as prescribed to treat properly diagnosed growth hormone deficiency.
What Is Human Growth Hormone Therapy Used for in Adults?
Before discussing the possible adverse effects, it might help to understand why so many people want to know more about human growth hormone therapy. There are legitimate reasons for some people to consider treatment with HGH injections.
HGH therapy increases the amount of growth hormone available to the body’s GH receptor cells when the pituitary gland no longer produces enough of this hormone. Boosting low HGH levels has many positive health effects for adults, as outlined below:
- Mental Aspects of HGH
- Maintaining an alert, focused, and concentrated attention span
- Sharpening learning, processing, memory storage, and recall functions
- Supporting emotional stability and well-being – decreasing depression, stress, anxiety, and mood swings
- Physiological Effects of HGH on Body Functions
- Regulating metabolic functions including fat burning, food processing, insulin sensitivity, and glucose uptake to aid in energy and weight loss
- Strengthening immune system functions and speeding healing
- Supporting heart health through cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, and triglyceride balance
- Ensuring proper cell regeneration to maintain the integrity of:
- Internal organs
- Blood supply
Many people take pictures before and after their HGH therapy to see the actual effects on face and body composition changes. Aside from better muscle tone and weight loss, most people also experience firming and tightening of the skin and faster, thicker hair growth. These physical benefits go along with better organ function and a reduced risk of conditions such as osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dementia.
As essential as it is to understand the facts about HGH therapy benefits, it is equally as crucial to be aware of growth hormone therapy side effects. The remainder of this article will focus on the safe use of HGH therapy and how to identify when growth hormone levels get too high.
Understanding why some people need HGH therapy can help reduce the risk of growth hormone therapy side effects.
How to Use HGH Therapy Properly and Safely
Knowing how to use HGH properly is as important as receiving a growth hormone deficiency diagnosis and prescription. Some medications say to take a specific dose, and then increase it if results are not seen, such as with taking only one pain tablet to see if that can help before resorting to two pills. That is not the way to use HGH injections.
Every hormone level has its proper balance point in the body. If it increases or decreases beyond that level, it can lead to problems. That is why adults with GHD experience many symptoms of its decline. The same fact holds true if growth hormone levels get too high. When that occurs, growth hormone therapy side effects are likely.
Remember to follow these steps for how to use HGH safely:
- Never inject HGH more than once a day unless directed to do so by the prescribing physician
- Inject only the dosage prescribed for use
- Administer growth hormone therapy at the same time each day
- Do not skip a dosage
- If a dose is missed, administer it right away unless it is close to the time of the next treatment – in that case, skip the missed dosage and get back on track
- In cases of missing more than one injection, contact the hormone clinic for instructions
- Always check the expiration date of the HGH before each shot
- Examine the medication before each use to ensure there is no discoloration, cloudy appearance, or particles
- Wash hands with soap and water prior to preparation and injection
- Use alcohol swabs as directed for proper sterilization
- Report any unusual reactions or side effects to the prescribing doctor
By following the provided guidelines, you can reduce the potential for growth hormone therapy side effects.
Possible HGH Replacement Therapy Side Effects in Adults
It is rare for adults to notice any negative effects from doctor-prescribed HGH therapy. Hormone specialists use extreme care in determining how much HGH to prescribe to each person.
What are the side effects of human growth hormone that could occur?
The most common growth hormone therapy side effects include injection site reactions that go away on their own. Other possible reactions include:
Common Unwanted Effects of HGH Therapy
- Edema – swelling caused by fluid retention
- Pain in the nerves, muscles, or joints
- Elevated cholesterol
- Insulin sensitivity resulting in high glucose levels
- Increased cholesterol
- Tingling or numbness in the skin
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Rare and Less Common Adverse Influence of HGH
- Acromegaly – enlargement of the bones in the hands, feet, and face
- Gynecomastia – breast tissue swelling in males
- Type 2 diabetes
- Thyroid concerns
- Blurred vision
- Breathing problems
- Allergic reactions
- Pounding in the ears
- Changes in heartrate
- Abdominal bloating or pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Changes in mood
The above-mentioned growth hormone therapy side effects rarely occur. If they do, the doctor may lower the dosage for a short time until they subside. Remember, the body is getting accustomed to having higher levels of growth hormone again. There is an adjustment period of a couple of weeks – especially in older adults. The doctor may even start off with a lower dosage, increasing it in increments over a matter of time. That can help reduce reaction risks in adults over age sixty.
Is HGH safe to use for reasons other than growth hormone deficiency?
Human growth hormone injections are only safe to use when medically prescribed. Some people with short bowel syndrome or HIV/AIDS-associated wasting or cachexia may also benefit from HGH therapy.
Other than that, there are risks of HGH use (or risks of taking) this medication for illicit purposes. Bodybuilding, sports enhancement, or anti-aging are examples of illegal and potentially dangerous use of HGH therapy.
The following issues could occur with abuse of HGH:
- Unprofessional HGH Treatment Side Effects
- Depression and other changes in emotional state
- Risks to health – internal organ enlargement
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficult
- Tumor growth
- Blurred vision
Side Effects of Abuse and Inappropriate Use of HGH
People who abuse or misuse HGH therapy typically buy it illegally off the internet or from other individuals. That can result in receipt of a medication that is counterfeit and dangerous to use. It is also impossible to know how much HGH the body requires without proper diagnosis and getting a prescription from a doctor. Too much of a good thing can rapidly turn bad for one’s health and well-being.
Growth hormone therapy side effects are easily avoided by using only the amount of HGH as prescribed by a hormone specialist.
FAQ About Risks and Negative Effects of HGH Therapy
Can HGH Lead to Kidney Failure?
Problems with the kidneys may occur due to growth hormone deficiency in conjunction with chronic kidney disease (CKD). As we answer the question can HGH cause kidney problems, it is not HGH therapy that will affect the kidneys – except in cases of abuse. As with all the body’s organs, increasing growth hormone levels too high for an extended time, as in the illegal use of HGH injections, can result in problems with organ function. However, for those with CKD, HGH therapy can help improve mortality and morbidity, as well as cardiovascular functions.
Does HGH Cause Cancer?
Cancer is not one of the recognized growth hormone therapy side effects. Research has not shown an increased risk of developing cancer from HGH use. Numerous studies on children with childhood cancer followed by HGH therapy have not turned up any increase in cancer risk.
Does HGH Make Cancer Cells Grow?
Because growth hormone stimulates cellular regeneration, HGH therapy is contraindicated in active cancer as it could potentially increase cancer cell growth. Individuals who have cancer and growth hormone deficiency will have to wait until they are in remission and receive clearance from their oncologists to begin HGH therapy. That is why a hormone specialist requires physical examination clearance as well as blood tests before proceeding with treatment.
Can Human Growth Hormone Therapy Lead to Infertility?
HGH therapy helps stimulate the production of testosterone and, in turn, estradiol – hormones necessary for fertility. Also, HGH directly influences sperm cell maturation (spermatogenesis), improving male fertility.
Can HGH Cause Diabetes?
One of the early growth hormone therapy side effects may be a reduction in insulin sensitivity and increased glucose levels. While blood sugar levels may increase at first, the body will likely make the necessary adjustments within a few weeks. If there is any concern, the doctor can decrease the HGH dosage to reduce any risks. Overall, normalizing HGH levels typically results in better insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake by the body’s cells.