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What Is Somatropin?

Article Details
  • Written By: J.M. Densing
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 11 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Somatropin is a synthetic form of a naturally occurring substance called human growth hormone, also known as HGH. Both children and adults need human growth hormone, and somatropin treats several growth disorders that result from the lack of natural HGH. It's also used to treat a condition called short bowel syndrome, and severe weight loss and weakness in AIDS patients. It has a range of side effects and should only be used under a doctor's supervision.

Naturally occurring human growth hormone is made in the body by the pituitary gland. It's needed in the body for cellular reproduction and proper growth and development of muscles and bones, particularly important for children. A deficiency can result in failure to grow in children. In patients of any age, it can cause symptoms such as weak muscles and bones, lack of energy and other symptoms. Hormone replacement with somatropin can help to reduce these symptoms.

In addition to human growth hormone deficiency, somatropin is used to treat a variety of disorders that cause abnormal growth. It's also used in patients with chronic kidney failure, and short bowel syndrome, which is a condition where food isn't properly absorbed in the intestine. Another use is treating AIDS patients who have extreme weight loss and muscle weakness, also called wasting. Aside from the medically approved uses, some people use it to reduce body fat, and increase muscle mass; this is a dangerous practice that should be avoided as the risks far outweigh the benefits.

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Somatropin comes in powder form that needs to be mixed into a solution and taken by injection under the skin or into the muscles. Dosage frequencies and strengths are based on the patient's body weight and need to be established by a doctor. Dosage instructions need to be followed closely, and a doctor or pharmacist should be consulted if there are any missed doses. Somatropin should not be taken by people with cancer, Prader-Willi syndrome, or diabetic retinopathy. Extreme caution should be used with pregnancy and many other conditions, all medical issues should be discussed with a doctor before using somatropin.

Some normal side effects include muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, nausea, headaches and irritation at the injection site. Other, more serious side effects include severe, sudden pain in the stomach or behind the eyes, vision changes, rapid heartbeat, yellowing skin or eyes, swelling in the extremities, difficulty breathing, dizziness, increased thirst and urination, joint pain and other effects. Any side effects should be reported to a doctor for evaluation.

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