Osteoporosis: The Silent Disease

Osteoporosis: The Silent Disease

Osteoporosis:  The Silent Disease

Hard to image that there are 2 million osteoporosis-related bone fractures occurring in the United States each year.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease affecting the bones.  The bones become brittle, weak and fragile causing a decrease in quality and strength leading to fractures and broken bones.  Women are 5 times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.

Who Is at Risk?

  • Being Female
  • Older age >50 years
  • Lack of estrogen as seen in Menopause
  • Certain medications such as steroids
  • Previous fractures
  • Smoking
  • Daily alcohol intake
  • Family History of osteoporosis
  • Low Bone density

 

What is the Cause of Osteoporosis?

Bone is live tissue, constantly being built and broken down.  Estrogen, calcium and vitamin D are part of the building blocks important in keeping bone tissue healthy and strong.  When women go through menopause and lose estrogen, the building material of bone is weakened and puts women at risk for osteoporosis.  Deficiency in calcium and vitamin D also contribute in making bone prone to this silent disease.

How do you know if you have Osteoporosis?

The only way to tell if you have osteoporosis is to have a bone density test which is a type of x-ray that measures the thickness and density of bone.  Screening begins at 50 years and continues every 2 years for women.   Also, if you a break a bone or have broken several, it’s a good idea to get a bone density test earlier than 50y.

Treatments for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis cannot be cured but the process can be slowed down and improved with medication. Medications used to treat osteoporosis put the brakes on bone deterioration.  Some medications can maintain bone density, strengthen bone and decrease the risk of fractures and breaking bone. Women who are at risk of heart attacks or have kidney problems may not be candidates.  You need to consult with your doctor to see if treatment is safe and recommended.

Importance of Exercise

Weight bearing and muscle strengthening exercises build bone. Weigh bearing exercises are those exercises where your feet and legs support your body weight.   Low impact exercise such as fast walking, elliptical and stair stepping machines, not only build muscle and endurance but also build the amount and thickness of bone. High impact exercises include running/jogging, jumping rope and high intensity aerobics.  Strong muscles increase blood flow and sends key nutrients to help maintain healthy bone.

 Prevention

Lifestyle changes including eating a well-balanced and colorful diet rich in calcium, vitamin D and protein along with regular exercises helps establish healthy bones and should be started at in puberty and adolescence.  Exposing your skin (without any sunscreen!) to sunlight every day for 10-15 minutes provides you with your daily dose of Vitamin D.

Take Home Message

Make proper nutrition, weight-bearing exercise and regular doctor visits part of your self-care for the rest of your life. You are never too young or too old to start.

Thank you Home and Family for allowing me to share this topic with your viewers!

NOF.org and NIH.gov; for more information about osteoporosis

 

Posted in: Let's Talk Women's Health

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