What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the bones, occurring when they lose minerals—such as calcium—quicker than the body can replace them. This causes bones to become less dense and lose strength, which often results in breaks or fractures.
Osteoporosis—often referred to as the “silent disease”—causes no pain or symptoms. Many people don’t realize they even have it until they break or fracture bones from an incident, such as a fall.
Those with osteoporosis have a much higher chance of serious or debilitating bone fractures. Some of the more serious complications from bone fractures are spine or hip fractures. Hip fractures can cause disability or even death within a year after injury.
Who does osteoporosis affect?
It’s a common misconception that older women are the only ones at risk for osteoporosis. For example, 1 in 2 women over 50 break a bone due to osteoporosis, but they are not the only ones affected. 1 in 3 men over 50 are also affected by osteoporosis.
Women are more likely to experience osteoporosis than men because their bone density is directly affected by hormone changes during menopause. Throughout this time, estrogen levels decrease, leading to declined bone density.
Although osteoporosis is much more common in the older generation, it’s still possible for those younger than 50 to be at risk. Some of these risk factors include lifestyle choices or medical conditions.
Some osteoporosis risk factors—out of one’s control—are:
- Being a female over the age of 50
- Going through early menopause before the age of 45
- Being related to someone with osteoporosis
- Thyroid disease or rheumatoid arthritis
There are other risk factors—brought on by lifestyle—that could cause osteoporosis, such as:
- Not enough calcium in the diet
- Low levels of vitamin D
- Cigarette smoking
- Drinking more than two drinks of alcohol a day
- Consuming more than three cups of coffee per day
- Lack of physical activity
How to prevent osteoporosis
To prevent osteoporosis, you need to focus on maintaining healthy bones, including good nutrition and exercise.
Follow these general guidelines to make sure you keep your bones strong and healthy:
- Eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Make sure your diet contains plenty of calcium, such as dairy or green vegetables. If it doesn’t, you can look into a calcium supplement.
- Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. An excellent way to get vitamin D is by exposing yourself to sunlight. But this is often difficult to do with seasonal changes or busy lifestyles. So if you need to, take a vitamin D supplement. Or eat nutritional foods, such as salmon, egg yolks, and canned tuna.
- Studies have shown that protein increases bone density. So make sure you’re getting plenty of it. This can be anything from chicken breast to eggs to lentils.
- Exercise is essential to sustaining healthy bones. It’s important to start exercising when you’re young and maintain it throughout your life. For optimal bone health, combine strength training with weight-bearing exercises.
How to manage osteoporosis
Whether you’re at risk for osteoporosis or you’re are already experiencing it, there are steps you can take to help manage it. Along with the steps already listed (such as getting more calcium, vitamin D, and exercising), you can also take extra precautions to avoid falling.
Use handrails when you can, pick up tripping hazards, and illuminate your house with extra light so you can see better. When you’re intentional about managing your osteoporosis, you are much more likely to live a pain-free life.
Worried about risks in your life that may be contributing to bone loss? Come see us at Accelerated Interventional Orthopedics, where Dr Rich and his team will talk to you about your concerns. Then, schedule a bone health consult today so we can discuss your next steps to getting optimal bone health.
- Osteoporosis mainly affects those older than 50 but can affect those younger as well.
- Both men and women are at risk for osteoporosis, although women have a higher chance.
- There are steps you can take to prevent osteoporosis, such as healthy eating and exercising.
- There are steps you can take to manage osteoporosis, such as making your home trip-free.