May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month.
WHAT IS OSTEOPOROSIS?
Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. Osteoporosis eventually weakens the bones, resulting in the increase and likelihood of sudden fractures.
The word “osteoporosis” means “porous bone”. If you were to observe a healthy bone under a microscope it would appear like a honeycomb. It would look porous. When osteoporosis is prevalent, the holes and spaces are much larger than in a healthy bone. As bones become less dense, they weaken and are more likely to break over time.
WHO GETS IT?
More women are affected by Osteoporosis than men. Women are more at risk because they have smaller, thinner, less dense bones. Women also lose more bone mass after menopause because of a rapid decrease of estrogen levels.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS?
- Being a female
- Age of 50 and older
- Chronic conditions
- Unhealthy lifestyle and habits
- History of breaking bones
Osteoporosis is known as a “silent” disease. Elderly people often suffer bone loss through many years and show no symptoms until a bone is broken.
Some symptoms of Osteoporosis are:
- Pain and tenderness in bones
- Bone fractures
- Brittle and weak nails
- Deformities in the spine
- Loss in height
A break in a bone can happen anywhere in the body. Most fractures are common in the spine, wrist, or hip. Fractures can occur during normal activities like bending forward, walking up stairs, or even sneezing.
If you’re 50 or older and have broken a bone, ask your doctor or healthcare provider about a bone density test. A bone density test is the only test that can diagnose Osteoporosis before a bone is broken. This test estimates the density of bones and the chance of breaking one.
Your body doesn’t make new bones fast enough to keep up with bone loss as you age. However, you can slow the natural process down by:
- Eating foods rich in calcium and protein
- Take plenty of Vitamin D and Vitamin K
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercising regularly in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Limiting alcohol
- Quitting tobacco use
Some ideas to prevent breaking bones are:
- Take your time when using the stairs
- Installing safety rails in the bathroom
- Eliminate rugs and clutter in the home
- Wear flat, well-fitted shoes