Also known as “brittle bone disease”, osteoporosis is a disease that weakens the bones, making it easy for them to break. Although broken bones can happen anywhere, due to osteoporosis, most problems usually occur in the hip, wrist and spine. Besides porous weak bones, posture is affected as bones in the vertebrae start to drop. Even then, most people aren’t aware of this devastating disorder that’s been called a silent disease.
According to statistics, about fifty percent of women over age 50 suffer from osteoporosis. It causes about 1.5 million fractures annually from everyday movements as bending and lifting. Even worse, it’s responsible for many falls. Worst of all, it robs people from living a normal life.
How Osteoporosis Occurs
As living structures, bones are constantly changing. As new bones are formed, old ones are taken away. These processes keep pace with each other up until around age 35. It’s when the pace of forming new bones can’t keep up with bone loss that osteoporosis develops. Besides genetics, osteoporosis is also caused by a lack of calcium in the diet. Because collapsing spinal bones can result in a hunched back, the condition can also result in shortened height.
Additional Risk Factors
In addition to inadequate calcium, other conditions make people more prone to osteoporosis as they age. For example, white females, especially those with irregular periods are more susceptible. Lack of exercise is another factor, as well as a below-average body weight. Smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol are risks.
Reducing Your Chances of Osteoporosis
Although osteoporosis can be devastating, it’s also preventable.
- Get enough calcium and vitamin D – Eat a healthy diet, ensuring it has the recommended requirements of vitamin D and calcium. While adults under age 50 need 1000 mg. of calcium daily, people 50 and over need to take 1,200 mg of calcium each day. Most people can’t get in enough calcium from foods, so they need to take a calcium supplement.
- Exercise – People who consistently exercise have a greater chance of reaching their peak bone density than inactive people. Include weight-bearing exercises in your exercise program such as jogging, walking, stair-climbing, dancing, hiking and racquet sports. However, before starting an exercise program check with your doctor if you’ve been inactive for most of your life.
- Make lifestyle chances – If you’re a smoker or excessive drinker, stop smoking over indulging in alcohol.
Have a bone density test – Once you’re 60 or older, it’s advisable for particularly all women to have a Bone Mineral Density test (BMD) which is the method of diagnosing osteoporosis, as well as deciding your risks for potential fractures. A BMD, which measures the density of materials as calcium in the bones, is simple and painless, in addition to being accurate and noninvasive. To measure bone density a BMD uses a special computed X-rayed tomography (CT) scan or ultrasound. Besides density, this date also approximates bone strength.
Treatment for Osteoporosis
Estrogen supplements are considered one of the most beneficial treatments as they help the body in absorbing calcium, keeping it in the body. Other medications and supplements include bishosphonates, raloxifene, parathyroid hormone and calcitronin, which are accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as effective for preventing and treating osteoporosis.
Finally, don’t wait until you’ve reached menopause to start preparing against osteoporosis. As early as your teen years you can take preventative measures to reduce your odds. How you care for your body when you’re young determines the health you’ll have when you’re older.
Originally published on Suite 101.