Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Test

human growth hormone

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is the Human Growth Hormone or HGH?

Human Growth Hormone (also known as GH or Growth hormone) is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain) which is responsible for regulating metabolic activities and activating the IGIF (Insulin-like Growth Factor). This plays a critical role in organ growth & development, muscle growth, and production of cartilage cells that, in turn, support healthy skeletal growth.

The secretion of this hormone is not constant throughout the day and follows a pulsating pattern. The amount of the hormone released in the blood is governed by several bodily states such as sleep, diet, stress levels, physical activities, age, and gender. It also remains largely influenced by the external environment and may also change if you catch a fever.

What is the HGH test?

The HGH test is a diagnostic tool that measures the level of HGH hormone in the blood and the results are used to pinpoint any growth-related problem an individual might be experiencing. If your healthcare specialist suspects that you are either secreting too much or too little of this hormone, you will be asked to undergo am HGH test.

What are the different components of HGH tests?

The level of GH or Growth Hormone can be assessed by the following elements included within the scope of the HGH test:

GH Serum Test – This test is often prescribed for athletes and measures the level of GH circulating in the blood sample.

IGIF-1 Test – This provides information on the level of Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 in the body. This test is often conducted along with the GH serum test. The levels of GH and IGIF-1 are directly related. If one is elevated, the other will be elevated too. IGIF-1, unlike GH, doesn’t fluctuate throughout the day.

GH suppression Test – The GH suppression test provides information on whether the body is producing too much Growth Hormone.

GH Stimulation Test – This test helps in assessing if an individual has a deficiency of the Growth Hormone.

What are the symptoms associated with low Growth Hormone?

The following symptoms are seen if an individual is deficient in Growth Hormone:

– Short stature or dwarfism
– Delayed growth
– Delayed onset of puberty
– Weak bones and joints due to decreased bone density
– Weak muscles
– Elevated blood lipid levels (high cholesterol)

If a child shows at least one of these symptoms, he/she may be asked to undergo the HGH test to find the exact reason for the growth-related issues.

What are the signs of high Growth Hormone?

If a person has higher than normal Growth Hormone level, he/she will exhibit the following symptoms:

– Acromegaly or too much growth of limbs, hair, bones and other body parts
– Gigantism, a rare condition where the individual is too tall and broad owing to large skeletal and muscular composition.

These signs are often identified during childhood and puberty phase.

How to prepare for the HGH test?

Follow these important dos and don’ts before undergoing the Growth Hormone test

Dos Don’ts
Fasting is required for at least 8-12 hours before the sample collection.Have the intake of medications such as Adderall or Ritalin.
Ask the doctor about what specific preparatory steps need to be followed by you as few protocols are different for adults and children.Indulge in exercise 10 hours before the sample collection.
Remember that this test can more than 3 hours to complete so you can bring books and music to keep you company.Consume birth-control pills or insulin medications before the test. Inform your doctor about all the medications that you are on.

How is the HGH test performed?

GH serum test – The procedure is the same as any routine blood sample collection. Fasting is required prior to the HGH test. An antiseptic solution is rubbed on the arm and an elastic band is tied around it. This increases the pressure on the veins makes it easy to locate them. A syringe is inserted and blood is drawn that is collected in a vial. This blood sample is sent to the lab for analysis.

IGIF-1 Test – As mentioned before, the GH levels fluctuate throughout the day but IGIF-1 remains constant. Hence, this is a better method of diagnosing growth-related issues. The same sample of blood that is drawn for the GH serum test can be utilized for testing IGIF-1 too.

These two tests are used for screening. If the results of these tests indicate abnormal GH level, then the following tests are performed:

GH Suppression Test – Initially, a blood sample is collected, the same way it is collected for the above two tests. After that, the patient will be asked to drink a standard solution containing glucose. More blood samples will be collected at specific time intervals within a 2-hour duration from the glucose solution intake. The samples will be sent to the lab for checking for GH suppression.

GH stimulation test – The same procedure as a GH suppression test is followed here except that in place of a glucose-containing solution, a specific medication will be given that triggers the secretion of Growth Hormone.

What is the reference range for the HGH test?

Test Range (Normal)Interpretation
GH suppression< 0.3 ng/mlHigher than 0.3 ng/ml = GH overproduction
GH stimulation> 5 ng/ml (kids)
> 4 ng/ml (adults)
Lower level is associated with GH underproduction

How to understand the HGH report?

– If your GH stimulation result is lower than the above-mentioned values and your IGIF-1 level is also low, it indicates a GH-related issue.

– These tests results are analyzed along with thyroid levels since abnormal thyroid levels can also impact the GH level.

– If thyroid results are abnormal, it is treated as a thyroid-related issue. GH treatment and evaluation shouldn’t be done unless thyroid tests are done.

– Similarly, if GH suppression test results are lower than the above-indicated value, and along with it IGIF-1 is also high, it points to the overproduction of GH.

When will I get my test results?

The results will be available 2-3 days after the sample collection.

My GH suppression result is higher than normal. What does it mean?

The following could be the reasons of high GH level:

– Pituitary gland tumor
– Cushing’s Syndrome
– Abnormal prolactin levels
– Certain drugs can also increase the GH hormone level

What medications interfere with the GH levels?

– Amphetamines
– Arginine
– Dopamine
– Glucagons
– Estrogen pills
– Histamines
– Insulin tablets
– Levodopa
– Nicotinic acid
– Corticosteroids
– Phenothiazines

What other complications are associated with abnormal GH levels?

High GH level increase the risk of
Colon polyps & colon cancer
– Diabetes
– Hypertension
– Visual abnormalities
– Trapped nerves (due to overgrowth of bones)
Carpal Tunnel syndrome
– Arthritis
– Frequent fracturing owing to weak bones

What is the cost of the HGH test in India?

The price of the HGH test in India lies close to Rs 750-Rs 900. It varies according to city and diagnostic centers.

How prevalent are growth disorders in India?

As per the latest reports, every year rough;y 150,000 children in India are reported to suffer from SS or short stature, a condition associated with GH hormone deficiency which can be treated by implementing proper hormone therapy.

Is the HGH test recommended for pregnant women?

During pregnancy, the GH levels increase dramatically. The HGH production is stimulated by the placenta. From 15 to 20 weeks gestation placental growth hormone gradually replaces pituitary growth hormone in the maternal circulation and is the main determinant of maternal IGF-1 levels. The increase in IGF-1 levels is consistent with the placental production of growth hormone even in a growth hormone deficient woman. These can be tested safely for pregnant women.

Is the HGH test recommended for babies and children?

As mentioned before, if a child is showing symptoms of either high or low GH production, he/she can undergo the HGH test if prescribed by the doctor. It is not generally recommended in the case of babies unless there is high risk of the baby inheriting growth disorders.

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