Can Adults Grow Taller?

Can Adults Grow Taller?

Nearly everyone shrinks with age. But some people insist, often after an annual visit to their doctor, that they’ve added a half-inch or so. If they aren’t children or teens, they’re probably mistaken, says Todd Milbrandt, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who explains the significance of physes and what makes 20 a special number.
She spurts, she grows

All children grow at a slow rate until they stop, with spurts as infants and during adolescence. With a good diet rich in vitamin D and calcium, most girls will grow from age 10 to 14 and be completely done by 16, while boys grow from 12 until about 16 or 18, “with some, in rare circumstances, growing up until 20,” says Dr. Milbrandt, a board member of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America. After that, their growth plates, also called physes—the cartilage near the ends of each bone—are absorbed into the body, which forestalls further change.

“There may be a 21-year-old patient that is young, in terms of his bone age, which is why he may still be growing in college, whereas others may have stopped when they are 13 or 14,” says Dr. Milbrandt, who does research on growth plates.

Scientists are investigating what turns physes on and off, Dr. Milbrandt says. Pediatric endocrinologists might prescribe a hormone called IGF-1 to children of short stature during puberty to achieve average height. But it won’t work in adults “because adults do not have physes,” he says.

People with endocrine abnormalities can grow in height as adults, but they may have a condition called gigantism. “They usually have a pituitary tumor that produces too much of that growth hormone,” says Dr. Milbrandt. “But even they would grow only until 25.” Adults who keep growing past 21 or so should see a doctor, he says.

Have a tall morning

Some adults might mistakenly believe they have grown because height can vary during the day. In general, people are taller in the morning than in the afternoon, often because cells absorb more fluid overnight, Dr. Milbrandt says.

“Imagine a tire that is pumped up—that is high turgor,” he says. “When you wake up and you haven’t been standing all day, your turgor is at its peak, so you’re taller than you would be at night. You’re pumped up.” By the end of the day, gravity takes its toll and the spaces between the spinal disks have lost that turgor.

The difference in height between morning and night could be half an inch, “but an inch would be a stretch,” says Dr. Milbrandt. “More than likely, a patient was standing taller at the doctor’s office or went in the morning.” Plus, he says, doctors’ scales can vary and “height measurements are notoriously imprecise.”

Stretching for the sky

After puberty, nearly everyone starts to shrink as age and gravity work their wonders. But there are ways to maintain height and even optimize it, says Dr. Milbrandt. He says he always recommends a vitamin D supplement to encourage strong bones. Stretching and yoga might have some effect on height by elongating the spine, but the effect is temporary. “I haven’t read any studies that show that you can elongate the spine permanently,” he says.
As for those folks who claim to be an inch taller this year over last? “They are mistaken,” insists Dr. Milbrandt. “Or their doctor needs a new scale.”

Can Adults Grow Taller?

New Diagnostic Tools Emerge in War Against Superbugs

New Diagnostic Tools Emerge in War Against Superbugs

Aim of rapid-diagnosis technologies is to reduce unnecessary prescription of antibiotics.

A new front is emerging in the fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs—one that doesn’t involve the development of new drugs.

Companies are racing to develop diagnostic technologies that can be used by hospitals and clinics to pinpoint the cause of common infections quickly. That should cut down on the unnecessary prescription of antibiotics, a major driver of drug-resistance in bacteria.

Traditional diagnostic testing via specialist laboratories can take several days to deliver results, so doctors who want to prescribe an immediate remedy often use a patient’s symptoms to guess what is causing an illness. More than a quarter of the time, this leads to antibiotics being prescribed unnecessarily, according to a 2013 study in the U.S. published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. In respiratory infections, two thirds of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary, according to the same study.

Now, a new market is opening up for diagnostics that can be used outside of specialist labs, and it is growing at a steady clip. The U.S. market for so-called point-of-care diagnostics for infectious disease stands at $533 million and is growing 7% a year, according to Divyaa Ravishankar, an analyst at consultancy Frost & Sullivan.


There is pent-up demand for tests that can return results quickly, said Nicholas Jansen, an analyst at Raymond James. “There’s always been a desire by hospitals and government agencies to minimize the use of antibiotics,” he said. “But the problem was that there wasn’t a technology available…that would make it cost-effective.”

Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine at the University of Oxford, said the tool that doctors want most is one that can test for several potential culprits simultaneously.

BioFire Diagnostics Inc., a Salt Lake City-based division of France’s bioMérieux SA, makes one such device. Its test looks for several pathogens at once, depending on the type of infection, and produces results in about an hour. Sales of these devices, which cost $35,000 apiece, more than doubled in the past year, according to company filings.

New Diagnostic Tools Emerge in War Against Superbugs

Five Ways Your Smartphone Can Help Your Health

Five Ways Your Smartphone Can Help Your Health
A doctor friend once told me the best thing I could do for my health was to turn off my cellphone. But that was before smartphone makers began building health and safety features into their phones. Here are five healthful tricks your phone can do.

Medical ID: Apple’s Medical ID turns any iPhone 4s or newer model into a mobile medical alert bracelet. Tap on your phone’s Health app icon (it’s the white square with a red heart) to find it. Setting up your phone’s medical ID allows doctors or emergency workers to tap and hold the Emergency button on your home screen — even when it’s locked — to access medical conditions, allergies, emergency contacts, blood type and other potentially lifesaving information. (Make sure you enable the “show when locked” switch.)

Fitness Tracking: Most smartphones now come equipped with motion sensors that measure steps, distance traveled and even stairs climbed. To find this feature on an iPhone, head back to the Health app. Click on the dashboard and panes open up showing steps, walking and running distance, and flights climbed. It shows your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly totals. No setup is required, but to get the most accurate count, it helps to carry your phone in your hand, jacket, or jeans pocket.

Samsung Galaxy S3 phones and newer come with the option to use a preloaded health app called S Health, which performs a similar tracking of steps and movement as well as calories burned, but you’ll have to take a few minutes to set it up the first time you use it.
Heart Rate Monitors: Samsung’s S Health app also has a place to measure your heart rate. Tap the orange heart with an EKG-like line running through it, then edit your profile with your name, gender, birthday, height, weight and activity level. Tap “save” and it takes you back to an orange screen. Touch “measure” at the bottom of the pane, then place your finger on the infrared sensor next to the camera on the back of the device. When it’s done getting a reading (mine is 80 beats per minute as I stand at my desk and type this), it shows whether you’re within a healthy range for your current status of “resting.” Over time you can use this to measure and track trends as well.
Samsung makes no medical claims as to the accuracy of the device, but when I’ve used it side-by-side with other wrist-worn trackers, such as an Apple Watch, a Fitbit Surge or a Basis Peak, the results are similar. Using the same sensor on the back of the Samsung device, you can also get a rough reading of oxygen saturation, which is especially helpful for athletes or people with asthma. In fact, Samsung’s S Health app is the most feature-rich and wellness-packed of all that I’ve tried. It includes a section for nutrition tracking as well that rivals third-party apps such as Lose It! or MyFitnessPal.
Track Your Family: Some might call it spying, but I like to think of it more as making sure everyone is safely where they should be. Find My iPhone automatically comes on any iPhone model running iOS 9, as long as you enable location services on that device. To do that, snag your teenager’s phone and tap the Settings icon, scroll down to Privacy and turn on Location Services. To find someone, tap your Find My iPhone app (a green radar beacon) on your own device or log in to iCloud to see connected devices on a map with their location. If you don’t share an iCloud account with your kids, you’ll need their passwords in order to see where they are.
Apple phones also come with Family Sharing or Find My Friends features that you can use to keep tabs on your brood as well. (Go to settings and iCloud to find it.) I don’t use these as much because with Family Sharing, a few racy texts between my husband and me showed up on an iPad that the whole family uses (awkward). And with Find My Friends, my daughter has too much control to lock me out when it’s convenient for her.
Voice-Activated 911: When Sam Ray, 18, was trapped beneath the two-ton pickup truck he was working on this past August in Tennessee, the pressure pinning his body activated Siri on the iPhone he had tucked in his back pocket. Mr. Ray yelled for the digital assistant to dial 911. It worked. After being rescued, airlifted, and treated for several broken ribs, a bruised kidney, cuts, a concussion and burns to his left arm, the lifesaving butt-dial made headlines around the world. “I’ve never heard of a story where you can figure out a way to use Siri to call 911 and get yourself rescued,” said Rick Miller, the chief of trauma and surgical care at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, where Mr. Ray was treated.
No matter what smartphone brand you favor, there’s now a way to get most new mobile devices to call 911 for help just by yelling at the device — but you have to set up voice activation first. With iPhone, find it under Settings, General and Siri. Then just say “Hey Siri,” and tell her to dial 911. (For iPhones older than the 6s model, the phone needs to be plugged in.)
Newer Android phones have Google Now voice activation. Saying “O.K. Google,” turns it on so that you can ask your phone to dial 911 or any other emergency contact completely touch-free. The Samsung S6 edge+ has a similar feature called SOS that is not voice-activated, but still pretty cool. After setup, trigger SOS by pressing the Power key three times quickly. It automatically snaps a picture from the front and back camera, records a quick audio clip, and sends a Google Maps link of your exact location to any contact that you’ve programmed it to.

 Five Ways Your Smartphone Can Help Your Health

America’s Top 20 Healthiest Cities

1. Washington, D.C.

2. Minneapolis, Minn.

America's Top 20 Healthiest Cities

3. Portland, Ore.

America's Top 20 Healthiest Cities

4. Denver, Colo.

America's Top 20 Healthiest Cities

5. San Francisco, Calif.

America's Top 20 Healthiest Cities

6. San Jose, Calif.

America's Top 20 Healthiest Cities

7. Seattle, Wash.

America's Top 20 Healthiest Cities

8. San Diego, Calif.

America's Top 20 Healthiest Cities

9. Boston, Mass.

America's Top 20 Healthiest Cities

10. Sacramento, Calif.

America's Top 20 Healthiest Cities

11. Salt Lake City, Utah

12. Hartford, Conn.

13. Raleigh, North Carolina

14. Cincinnati, Ohio

15. Richmond, Va.

16. Austin Texas

17. Pittsburg, Pa

18. Atlanta, Ga

19. Los Angeles, Calif.

20. Philadelphia, Pa

America’s Top 20 Healthiest Cities.

Does the Sea Air Have Curative Powers?

An Expert Weighs in on the Benefits of Breathing in Beach Air and Surfing

Does the Sea Air Have Curative Powers?.

The $1 Paper Microscope That Could Change the World

When diagnosing people in the developing world, health workers often go into the field lugging bulky, fragile, and expensive microscopes.

While traveling in Thailand, a scientist dreamt up a lightweight, low-cost alternative: a pocket-sized paper microscope made from a single sheet of folded paper, a pair of lenses, and an LED. Approximate cost: $1.

The $1 Paper Microscope That Could Change the World – Businessweek.

On call

Private hospitals in Asia: On call | The Economist.