Osteoporosis – Some Facts

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Osteoporosis is a disease that affects older people and involves brittle and weak bones which break easily leading to fractures. This problem is common among women and caused by bone loss usually in the 5-10 years after menopause. During this period, women reportedly lose about 2.5% of bone density every year.

Not just women, men over 65 can also develop osteoporosis disease though the number is significantly lower.

Weak bones are as a result of the loss. The bone amount in a body reaches its peak usually between 25 and 30 years of age. Thereafter, the woman starts to lose it. Earlier, bone loss was offset by bone building but from the age of 35, the loss gradually starts to become more than the building. After menopause, the speed of this loss picks up. If osteoporosis sets in it is usually when the woman is around 65 years of age. Her bones have become so weak that the chances of her breaking one are very high and a bone density scan is likely to reveal weak and brittle bones.

What causes Osteoporosis?

Reasons for osteoporosis are several. Osteoporosis risk factors include a fall in estrogen levels during menopause and low calcium intake. It is also hereditary and so if your mom has had it, it is likely you will develop it too.

Other osteoporosis causes are:

  • Diet low in Vitamin D
  • Long-term use of certain medicines
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Lack of exercise
  • Disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, premature menopause

Signs and Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis signs include back pain, stooped posture, fractures and gradual loss of height with the body appearing to shrink with the passage of time. Although osteoporosis weakens all the bones, fractures usually occur around the hips, wrist, and spine. These are painful and can reduce mobility considerably.

How to prevent Osteoporosis?

The risk factors for osteoporosis should be taken into account and avoided. Osteoporosis prevention is possible early on in life if you keep the following in mind:

Increase intake of Calcium

If the natural diet is not calcium-rich, then consider consulting your doctor for advice on a calcium supplement. The daily recommended calcium intake depends on the woman’s age. Osteoporosis diet includes food rich in calcium such as yogurt, milk, tofu, spinach and white beans. Calcium-rich food should be taken as early as between the ages of 9 and 18. This is the critical bone-building period.

Increase intake of Vitamin D

For the body to absorb the calcium, Vitamin D is essential. Foods like milk, eggs, and cooked salmon are a rich source of Vitamin D. Or else, supplements may be necessary.

Take Bone Density Test

You can find out if you have weak bones by undergoing a bone density scan. This is done usually after 65 years of age and will determine your bone health, the status of your bones and whether you are at risk. There is also the DXA/DEXA or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan which takes X-rays of your bones.

Exercises for Osteoporosis

Maintaining bone density is important for keeping osteoporosis at bay. Two effective osteoporosis exercises are weight-bearing and muscle strengthening.

Weight-bearing exercises for Osteoporosis

Weight-bearing exercises for osteoporosis include high-impact and low-impact activities. High-impact exercises are jogging, running, tennis, stair climbing, hiking and high-impact aerobics. Low-impact weight-bearing exercises that may be effective are low-impact aerobics, stair-step and elliptical training machines and fast walking.

Muscle-strengthening exercises for Osteoporosis

For muscle-strengthening exercises, you may try weight machines, lifting weights, use of elastic exercise bands, etc. If already suffering from osteoporosis then before choosing your exercise, get advice from a physical therapist.

Can Osteoporosis be reversed?

You may not effectively be able to reverse osteoporosis but can control it by following a carefully planned diet rich in calcium and vitamins, getting plenty of sun, exercising and using products specially designed for osteoporosis.

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