Osteoporosis is a disease that affects bone health and density. Bones are constantly breaking down and replacing themselves like other living tissues do. When suffering from osteoporosis, bones can’t replace all of the tissue that breaks down, causing them to weaken significantly. At first, osteoporosis doesn’t have any symptoms. The only way to find out whether you’re showing early signs of the disease is to have your bone density measured by a medical professional. Later on in the disease, once the bones have been significantly weakened, symptoms can include:
- Bone fractures, especially one caused by normally non-threatening actions, like a small fall or bending or twisting of the body.
- Fractured or collapsed vertebra (causes back pain)
- A stooped or curved posture
- Decrease in height
If you experience any of these symptoms, visit a doctor immediately. Even if you have no symptoms, it is extremely important to schedule an appointment to talk with your doctor about your chance of having osteoporosis and about having your bone density measured, since older adults are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis. Other high risk factors include:
- Having a smaller body frame
- Having a family history of the disease, especially if a parent or sibling suffers from it
- Being of Caucasian or Asian descent
- Being a women, since loss of estrogen after menopause causes bones to weaken
- Having pre-existing thyroid or other gland problems
- Suffering from dietary issues such as low calcium intake, an eating disorder, or having gastrointestinal surgery
- Long-term usage of medications such as oral or injected corticosteroid medications, and certain medications that treat seizures, gastric reflux, cancer, or transplant rejection
- Suffering from medical conditions such as cancer, kidney or liver disease, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis
Osteoporosis prevention is all about eating well and keeping a healthy lifestyle. A few prevention tips are:
- Incorporating extra protien, vitamin D and calcium into your diet, all of which aid bone health.
- Maintaining an appropriate weight that is neither overweight nor underweight. While those with thinner frames are at a higher risk of osteoporosis, recent studies have linked wider frames to increased chances in arm and wrist fractures.
- Engaging regularly in exercise that helps minimize bone loss and strengthen bone health. Strength exercise helps upper body bone health (e.g.: exercising with weights), weight bearing exercises for lower body bone health (e.g.: walking, jogging, etc.), and balance exercises help with preventing falls (e.g.: tai chi, yoga, etc.)