54 million Americans are at risk or living with osteoporosis and low bone mass. In a particular year, over one-third of adults within 65 and above experienced a fall. 20 to 30% of those who fall suffer injuries that decrease mobility and independence; falls are the leading cause of death from injury in this age group.
Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. It occurs either when you lose too much bone or make too little bone or both. Consequently, your bones become weak and may break from a minor fall or, in serious cases, even from sneezing or bumping into your home furniture.
Osteoporosis means “porous bone”. A healthy bone under a microscope view will look like a honeycomb. The holes and spaces in the honeycomb are much bigger if you have osteoporosis than they are in a healthy bone. This means your bones have lost density or mass and that the structure of your bone tissue has become abnormal. As your bones become less dense, they also become weaker and more likely to break.
“Osteoporosis and low bone mass affect almost 44 million adults between 50 and above, especially women.” National Osteoporosis Association. One reason women who have had babies are at risk is that, it takes a whole lot of calcium to develop a baby, and that calcium is taken from the mother’s bones if she’s not getting enough in her diet.” Adults in middle age need 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily. Osteoporosis is an abnormally in aging, hence healthy behaviors and treatment can prevent or minimize the condition.
When to see a Physician
Osteoporosis is referred to as a silent disease, because you might not notice or feel your bones getting weaker. See a physician immediately you notice any of these signs.
§ Broken bone; it comes with ageing and it is often the first sign, occurs more in the hip, spine and wrist
§ Persistent severe pain
§ Loss of height
§ Broken or collapse bones of the spine.
§ Curved spine, stooped or hunched back.
Uncontrollable Risk Factors
· Being over age 50
· Being female
· Family history of osteoporosis
· Low body weight/being small and thin
· Broken bones or height loss
Controllable Risk Factors
§ Insufficient calcium and vitamin D
§ Insufficient fruits & vegetables
§ Excess protein, sodium and caffeine
§ Inactive lifestyle
§ Excess alcohol intake
Some medicines can be harmful to your bones; despite they are being used for treatment of other conditions. Bone loss is usually greater if these medications are taken for a long period or in high doses.
It is advisable to discuss the risks, benefits and the consequence of any medications with your healthcare provider.
· Medications to watch out for :These medications can lead to bone loss
Aluminum-containing antacids, Antiseizure medicines (only some) such as Dilantin® or Phenobarbital, Aromatase inhibitors such as Arimidex®, Aromasin® and Femara®. Cancer chemotherapeutic drugs, Cyclosporine A and FK506 (Tacrolimus), Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) such as Lupron® and Zoladex®, Heparin, Lithium, Medroxyprogesterone acetate for contraception (Depo-Provera®), Methotrexate, Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Nexium®, Prevacid® and Prilosec®, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Lexapro®, Prozac® and Zoloft®, steroids (glucocorticoids) such as cortisone and prednisone, Tamoxifen® (premenopausal use),Thiazolidinediones such as Actos® and Avandia®, Thyroid hormones in excess.
What to do
i. Avoid smoking
ii. Manage alcohol intake
iii. Get plenty of calcium
iv. Limit foods with high acidic content.
v. Weight-bearing exercise helps to ensure healthy bones.
vi. Avoid sodas. They support loss of calcuim. The body always maintains calcuim, and when there is insufficient quantity coming in from diet, the bone releases calcium.
vii. Get Vitamin D, “the sunshine vitamin”. Most multiple vitamins contain 400 units. Try to get enough from low-fat dairy products or take a supplement.
It is never too late to start exercising. Get started, the sooner, the better.