Osteoporosis is a disease that is common in women. Approximately ten million American, eight million women and two million men, are affected by this condition.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that features loss of the bone’s normal density. It leads to abnormally porous bone that is more compressible like a sponge, than dense like a brick. This disease weakens the bones and increases risks of having fractures. Even a minor fall or injury may cause the bone to get a fracture.
A lot of factors may contribute to having Osteoporosis. As we age, our body starts producing lesser calcium, causing natural degeneration of the bone. Certain medications may contribute to a loss of bone density. And also having a certain bone condition called Osteopenia, which is low bone mass, increases the risk of having Osteoporosis.
How would I know if I have Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a silent disease, it has no specific symptom. Its only main consequence is an increased risk of getting bone fractures. Osteoporotic fractures happen in places a normal person would not normally break bones, they are called fragility fractures. These typically occur in the vertebral column, the hip and the wrist.
Some symptoms of fragility fractures in the vertebral column, also called vertebral collapse, are acute back pain and spinal cord compression. The pain is caused by compressed nerves. Multiple vertebral fractures may lead to a stooped posture, loss of height, and chronic pain which causes reduced mobility.
How is Osteoporosis treated?
There are several treatments available for people with Osteoporosis. However, medical health professionals emphasized the importance of a change of lifestyle in order to prevent the disease from developing.
Lifestyle change. This includes integrating exercise into your schedule and quitting cigarette smoking. Exercise does not do anything to increase bone density, it does, however, improve your sense of balance and strengthen muscles to help prevent you from falls. Cigarette smoking, on the other hand, decreases bone mass. For pre-menopausal women, cigarette smoking decreases estrogen level, thereby decreasing bone mass.
Medications. There are now medications available in the market that helps in stopping bone loss, some medications help increase bone strength, and some help increase bone formation.
Nutrition. Eating foods rich in calcium will help supplement the loss calcium in the bones. Vitamin D and protein, although good for muscle strength, have been proven to increase the risk of getting fractures. It is not advisable to eat foods with high protein or Vitamin D content.
How can I prevent getting Osteoporosis?
The best way to fight Osteoporosis is to not get it in the first place. This condition is easily preventable by means of living a healthy lifestyle, exercise and proper diet.
Performing exercise at an early age may help achieve higher peak bone mass and good muscle strength. Having enough exercise helps delay bone degeneration and decreases chances of acquiring Osteoporosis even at the later years of your life. A well-balanced diet with sufficient calcium and vitamin D for the bones and muscles will also help decrease the risk of getting Osteoporosis.
Being health-conscious at an early age helps, so don’t wait until you’re old to start taking care of your bones. They are, after all, holding you up and supporting you.