Human growth hormone (HGH) is naturally secreted by the pituitary gland and is used to induce physical growth and the reproduction and division of cells. This hormone has a number of practical applications in modern medicine, which ranges from combating stunted growth in children to hormonal replacement in older or deficient adults.
The substance is also used as a performance enhancer in many sports, though its use is banned for the purpose. While HGH can impart many benefits to health and well-being, it is not without its downfalls. Synthetic versions of HGH are commonly marketed under the brand names GenF20, Sytropin, HGH Energizer and HGH Pro. Here are some of the potential side effects of HGH.
Taking human growth hormone has been found to cause water retention in up to 80 percent of patients. It is not yet clear by what mechanism HGH causes water to be retained in the tissues. This side effect doesn’t present any known health hazards, but some people may find it mildly inconvenient or uncomfortable and it may make clothes fit awkwardly. However, the problem can be remedied through the use of diuretics.
The process of healing and growth, which is promoted by HGH, can lead to inflammation in the joints and other tissues. In a 2010 neuroendocrinology report, people with naturally high levels of HGH were more likely to suffer from joint pain. It is suspected that people receiving supplemental HGH could also have the problem. In a study performed on individuals with HIV, growth hormone supplementation improved their physical build, but it caused joint pain in nearly half of the participants.
HGH also affects the endocrine system, which can lead to some unwanted results. One of these is the overproduction of insulin. Although this isn’t always problematic, it could cause diabetes-like symptoms in some people. It is believed that the increased insulin production is due to elevations in blood glucose levels. If this is not managed properly, it could eventually result in full-blown diabetes.
Injection Site Reactions
The most common side effect of human growth hormone is unpleasant reactions in the injection site. This normally presents as minor pain, swelling and redness that disappears within a day or two. Occasionally, infections can be caused due to re-using needles and improper sanitation of the injection site. Rarely, patients may experience a local allergic reaction to the injection carriers or to the HGH itself.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome, a compression disorder of the wrists, is another common issue with HGH due to inflammation. This can make it difficult to perform manually intensive tasks and can even cause debilitating pain and numbness. In some cases, the discomfort is severe enough to disrupt sleep.
Long-term use of HGH may cause some men to develop breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia. This is due to the chemical similarity between human growth hormone and prolactin. HGH is taken up by prolactin receptors, triggering the growth of breast tissue. In extreme cases, men may even begin to lactate. This embarrassing condition can increase the risk of breast, testicular and prostate cancer.
Human growth hormone can provide many benefits for people who are deficient, but it’s important to be aware of possible side effects so that they can be properly treated.