Unfortunately, it is all too common to hear of an aged loved one falling and breaking their hip or another bone. Often, this is caused by osteoporosis, which has left their bones weak and fragile.
Often the first sign that someone has osteoporosis is when a weakened bone breaks or fractures. According to the Mayo Clinic, other signs might include a stooped posture, back pain or losing height. This condition can be very serious and broken bones or fractures from osteoporosis can lead to permanent disability or death.
The destruction and rebuilding of bone tissue is a natural process of our bodies. Osteoporosis is that natural process gone awry. As we are growing our older bone tissue is being replaced with new tissue and our bone mass is growing. Eventually, this process begins to slow down and our bodies do not replace the bone tissue as quickly. For people who start with a smaller bone mass, this can lead to dangerously fragile bones. Another factors that exacerbates the slowing of bone tissue creation is an overactive thyroid.
Women are much more at risk for osteoporosis than men. In fact one half of all women, and one quarter of all men over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis according to the Wall Street Journal.
While you can only control some of your risk factors for osteoporosis, the good news is that there are many effective ways to build better bones to help prevent it.
• Eat healthy and get enough calcium and vitamin D—drink milk, eat fish and take supplements if necessary.
• Weigh bearing exercises—walking, running, or other weight bearing aerobic exercises 30 minutes a day.
• Resistance and strength training—weight lifting will help build bone mass.
• Don’t smoke or consume large amounts of alcohol both of which increase your risk for osteoporosis.
Prevention of osteoporosis needs to start as early in life as possible. Don’t wait until you are in your 50s. Take up these habits as part of a healthy lifestyle and help prevent future problems with osteoporosis.
Bone density tests are used to determine if you have osteoporosis or if you are at increased risk. These tests are done with xrays of the spine, hip and forearm, which allow a doctor to gauge the strength and density of your bones. People with risk factors for osteoporosis should get bone density tests as well as postmenopausal women and women over the age of 65.
If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, it’s not too late to reverse it. The ways to prevent osteoporosis can also help reverse it: calcium, vitamin D, weight bearing exercises, strength and resistance training. Since bones are living tissue these healthy life habits can help build the bone’s density at any age. Of course, people with osteoporosis should consult with a doctor before participating in any fitness regimen to minimize the risk of breaks and fractures.
In some cases other medical treatments are needed for osteoporosis. Your doctor may give you a prescription to buy Fosamax, Binosto or other medications that slow bone loss.
If you have osteoporosis it is very important to take safety precautions to prevent fractures. This may include installing safety bars or other equipment in your home and changing your lifestyle.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or not, take it on today through lifestyle and health choices that will build better bones for today and the future.