Osteoporosis or porous bone had never been an issue with me five or even two years ago. But now that I have turned forty, I am starting to take this condition seriously as I want to avoid it at all cost.
So I started researching on osteoporosis to really understand it more and be aware of its early symptoms, and most of all, to learn how to prevent it effectively. I’ve found out that there were quite a few facts about this condition that I had not known before.
A quick look at osteoporosis
Otherwise known as porous bone, osteoporosis is described by the National Osteoporosis Foundation as “a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures, especially of the hip, spine and wrist, although any bone can be affected.”
In a simpler definition therefore, it is a condition in which the bones become so weak and fragile they can easily be broken as a result of a minor fall or in serious cases, even from a simple sneezing action.
Certain facts about osteoporosis:
- Osteoporosis is generally a silent disease. You might be unaware that you have it until you break a bone.
- Although often considered as a condition affecting older people, osteoporosis can strike any person at any age.
- People from all ethnic background are considerably at risk.
- It is quite an under-recognized and under-treated condition in both Caucasian and African-American women.
- Compared with other ethnic/racial groups, Hispanic women have the most rapidly increasing risk.
- Osteoporotic fractures usually occur in the hip, spine, and wrist, although any bone can be affected.
The staggering figures mentioned above pertaining to osteoporosis underscore the need for adequate public education regarding this disease. And one of the simplest methods to do that is to learn the signs and symptoms associated with it such as follows:
- Bone weakness which is not usually felt until the person breaks a bone. If you have osteoporosis, a minor fall can cause your bone to break, and if the condition is quite serious, bones can break from a simple sneezing action or even spontaneously.
- Severe back pain, reduced height, or spinal deformities like kyphosis (stooped posture) can signal vertebral fractures in their initial stages. However, vertebral fractures can also occur without pain in many cases.
- Bone mass reduction usually occurs in women five to seven years after menopause increasing their susceptibility to osteoporosis.
The risk of developing osteoporosis is increased by the following factors, of which some are unchangeable and others are quite modifiable.
- Gender (females are more at risk)
- Older age
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Body size (being small and thin)
- Certain race/ethnicities (Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, but African-Americans are also at risk)
- History of broken bones
- Decreased sex hormones such as low estrogen concentrations in women (including menopause); absence of menses (amenorrhea); and low testosterone levels in men
- Diet (low calcium and/or low vitamin D intake; too much protein, sodium and caffeine intake)
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Alcohol abuse
- Certain drugs, including steroids, some anticonvulsants and others
- Certain diseases and medical conditions such as anorexia nervosa, rheumatoid arthritis, gastrointestinal conditions and others
Approximately 85 to 90 percent of adult bone mass is said to be acquired by the age of 18 in girls and 20 in boys. To help prevent osteoporosis later in life therefore, it is essential that strong bones are developed during childhood and adolescence.
The following steps are key factors in preventing osteoporosis:
- Talk with your doctor regarding bone health
- Know the daily amounts of calcium and vitamin D recommended for your age and specific health needs; consult your doctor if necessary.
- Ensure that you take in the recommended daily allowance for calcium and vitamin D by taking dietary supplements containing these essential nutrients.
- Perform weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises regularly.
- Avoid smoking as nicotine impairs bone health from various angles.
- Avoid taking too much alcohol.
- Have a bone density test to determine your bone mass status.
- Take prescribed medicine as needed, to keep your bone healthy.
Although osteoporosis is more common in the older population, it is essential that you start taking this disease seriously even if you are still in the in adolescence stage or in your twenty’s, especially if you are female. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, so embark on your campaign against osteoporosis by starting with yourself.