It is not easy to be short. From childhood, society tends to admire taller people, and adults of shorter stature tend to face a number of issues. There are different types of treatment for lower than average growth that are available to both children and adults, involving everything from lengthening the bones of the leg to increasing the level of human growth hormone, or HGH, that the body produces. However, it is important to ask ourselves whether these treatments are the best option for us, and what effect they might have not only on our height, but on our general health as well.
Human growth hormone is generated in the pituitary gland in the brain. It helps us grow when we are children and teens, and it is also connected to organ function, metabolism, production of body fluids, and bone and muscle strength. HGH is released at different times, but the largest amount of the hormone is released when we are in REM sleep. The hormone is carried to the liver, where it is converted into a growth factor which contributes to cell and organ function along with general growth before being released into the blood stream.
Some studies show that HGH can have an effect on our overall health. The natural level of HGH released by the body declines as we get older, and there is indication that these lower hormone levels may result in some of what are considered the most common consequences of aging: gray hair, wrinkled skin, weight gain, lower muscle tone and strength, fatigue, reduced mental focus, decreased sex drive and performance, weaker bones, and greater vulnerability to disorders like heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
However, HGH has a specific impact on growth. Children who are born with a deficiency of the hormone may suffer from Turner's Syndrome, which affects the development of girls, or Prader-Willi Syndrome, which also may cause poor muscle tone, sight problems, constant hunger, and decreased sex hormones. Even as adults such individuals may face issues like greater risk of osteoporosis or kidney problems and, for females, problems with their ovaries. Children with a kidney deficiency or who were small for their gestational age may also suffer from HGH levels that are lower than the norm. The most common reason for low HGH among children is Growth Hormone Deficiency. Children with this disorder may grow as little as less than two inches per year until puberty.
It is more rare for adults to suffer from disorders related to low levels of HGH. However, some may continue experiencing disorders such as Prader-Willi Syndrome that they have suffered from since childhood, and tumors affecting the pituitary gland or radiation therapy designed to treat those tumors may also cause the gland to produce a lower amount of HGH, impacting the individual's height. Still, most adults with small stature are naturally shorter than their peers without a cause tied specifically to HGH deficiency.
Adults who wish to increase their height often either use exercises or undergo limb-lengthening surgery. While supporters of both these treatments claim that they can lead to a successful increase in height, there are important considerations that must be made before an individual decides to try either one of them.
Some argue that an adult is able to add inches to his or her height by doing regular exercises. They say that stretches, hanging exercises, anaerobic exercises like playing basketball, and resistance or strength exercises like weight-lifting, when done regularly in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can naturally stimulate the body to grow taller. There are even those who claim that quick, high-intensity bouts of sexual intercourse can have a similar effect. For more info on how to increase HGH levels with exercise click here!
It works like this: exercise stimulates the body into releasing short spikes of HGH at higher levels than normal. These increases in the levels of the hormone result in the creation and strengthening of new bone cells, which can help bones grow longer and stronger. Furthermore, as the bones grow cushions of cartilage form around their ends. This cartilage supports the lengthening bone. According to some arguments, the increased HGH levels that come from regular exercise both help the cartilage develop and prevent it from solidifying and disappearing. The presence of the cartilage allows the bone potentially to continue growing longer in the future.
But does this treatment really work? It is difficult to say for certain, but there is not much evidence that exercise and a healthy diet can significantly increase the height of an adult. Although HGH levels can have an impact on overall health, especially as we grow older, spikes in the levels do not seem to make a dramatic difference in bone length. Still, it further studies might provide new information about the efficiency of exercise treatments in increasing stature.
Limb-lengthening surgery is becoming a more popular method of increasing height for adults. This treatment involves the bones being either broken or cut. Then, often, an external fixator is put into place on the limb and usually fastened to the bone with pins, screws or wire. Under some circumstances, it is possible to implant a metal rod into the bone as well, which supports it and allows it to heal more quickly than with an external fixator alone. More recently, scientists have developed implantable nails which do not require the presence of a fixator at all. Once the bone has been cut or broken, the distraction phase begins. During this phase, the bone will be pulled apart at an average rate of one millimeter per day, either by exerting manual force on the fixator or by applying small amounts of pressure on the limb where the implantable device has been installed. This allows new bone, tissue and nerves to form in the gap, elongating the limb. Once the limb reaches the required length, the new bone is allowed to consolidate, or harden. For adults, the entire process may take as much as two months' worth of treatment per centimeter of new bone. During that time, patients usually have to spend one to three days in the hospital recovering from the initial surgery, require regular physical rehabilitation, often including swimming and progressive weight bearing, and X-rays, and may wear a cast on the limb to ensure it is protected as the bone heals.
Does the surgery work? It certainly has a record of success. However, some people question whether it is worth the effort involved. Most patients only add between two and four inches to their height, and although doctors say that the surgery and distraction process is not unbearably painful, there are plenty of former patients who claim that it was excruciating. Also, the limb-lengthening process has the potential to result in harmful side effects, the most common of which, according to a 2006 International Orthopedics journal article, are hip problems, uneven lengthening of limbs, and even nerve damage or paralysis. It can also cause stiffness in the joints and weakness of muscles, and sometimes the bones consolidate too quickly, leaving a defect. These complications may even require further surgery, prolonging treatment time. Finally, it can be very expensive and difficult to have limbs lengthened. Very few doctors in the United States perform the surgery, so most American patients have to go outside of the country. Also, it can cost more than $80,000, which may be prohibitively costly.
The most common treatment for children is HGH injections. These are dosages of synthetic HGH, which increase the amount of hormone in the body and lessen the deficiency. These treatments do have success for children who suffer from lower levels of HGH. However, there are a few considerations that are necessary before beginning the injections.
First, HGH injections must be taken before the child's growth plates have closed. Once that occurs, it is not healthy for an individual to receive such dosages of artificial hormone. Furthermore, this treatment is only available with a doctor's prescription. Without a prescription, there is no guarantee that the synthetic hormone is safe and effective for human use. In fact, it is illegal to take it. It is also forbidden to use synthetic HGH in athletic competitions, and it may appear on drug tests. Artificial HGH is only available in the form of injections, and although insulin needles are available to lessen the potential pain, those who dislike shots may find it difficult. In addition, the injections may be very expensive – according to one source, they can cost as much as US$30,000 per year. Finally, the injections may cause side effects ranging from mild to severe. Common side effects may include muscle and joint pain, irritation or swelling around the injection site, elevated blood sugar, mood changes, and increased risk of infection. There may also be a greater danger of pressure in the brain. It is possible, in addition, for HGH injections to increase the patient's chance of suffering scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine. In the most extreme cases, patients with Prader-Willi syndrome who were very overweight and had experienced difficulty breathing or lung infection died from side effects related to the use of HGH injections.
Talk to your doctor and consider the options before beginning any course of treatment. For children who are suffering from a deficiency of HGH, medically prescribed injections like Norditropin, Saizen and Humatrope may be the best choice. For adults who wish to increase their stature, it is important to decide whether the expense and pain of limb-lengthening surgery is worth it, or if you want to pursue exercise and a healthy lifestyle instead. One option is to try a natural HGH supplement like Genf20 Plus which is available over the counter, and at a much lower price than HGH injections. Genf20 Plus could naturally raise the level of HGH that the brain generates, rather than artificially injecting more HGH into the body. There is not a large amount of evidence that they can increase stature, even in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise, but they do supposedly help impact overall physical health and reduce the most common effects of aging.
It is not easy being short, especially in a society where greater height is valued. Treatments that promise to increase height might seem quite attractive. However, it is also important to consider our general health and recognize that our value as people may not be tied just to our stature. Thinking carefully about how the offered treatments can affect you as a person is an admirable choice in its own right.
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