Osteoporosis is a condition that is thought to affect almost 3 million people in the UK. However, it is perhaps more commonly referred to as the ‘silent disease’ because many people are unaware that they have it until they fracture or break a bone, at which point it is often diagnosed. Are you informed about osteoporosis? Below, we provide a brief overview of the condition.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is an emergent condition that causes a person’s bones to become weaker as they grow older. The condition develops over an extended period, usually, several years, and is commonly revealed later in life as the result of a fall or bone injury. Those who have the condition are consequently more susceptible to damaging or breaking bones, especially those in the wrist, hip, and spine.
Who’s Affected by Osteoporosis?
Bone is living tissue. Because of this, throughout our lives, new bone is created to replace old bone. However, as we get older, the cells that generate new bone tend to become slower than cells that remove old bone. Consequently, this ultimately results in a loss of bone tissue, meaning our bones often become more brittle and fragile.
This loss of bone tissue is a normal part of ageing. However, if a person experiences an increased loss, this can lead to the development of osteoporosis.
For women, there is a naturally higher risk of osteoporosis. This is because during and after menopause, the female body produces less oestrogen, which helps to strengthen bone. This lack of oestrogen then causes rapid loss of bone tissue, meaning that women are more vulnerable to developing the condition.
There are a number of other factors that can also lead to osteoporosis:
- family history – your risk of developing osteoporosis can be increased if there have been previous cases in your family or if one of your parents has broken or fractured a hip
- having a low BMI (body mass index)
- extended use of medication which can impact hormone levels or bone strength
- heavy drinking
What are the Symptoms and Signs of Osteoporosis?
You cannot feel that your bones are getting weaker, meaning that unfortunately, there are no definitive symptoms of osteoporosis. This is why it is often diagnosed when a bone is fractured or broken. However, there are some signs to watch out for that may indicate your bone loss:
- chronic back pain
- spine curvature
- height loss
If you become aware of any of these signs, talk to your doctor.
What Treatment is Available for Osteoporosis?
Treatment for osteoporosis is largely based on strengthening bones with the aim of preventing fractures or breakages by taking prescription medications, supplements or making lifestyle changes.
If you need treatment for osteoporosis, your doctor will advise you on what treatment will be best in terms of safety and effectiveness.
Can Osteoporosis be Prevented?
Like any condition, osteoporosis cannot be prevented entirely. However, if you are at risk of developing the condition, there are steps you can take to keep your bones as strong as possible:
Partake in Regular Exercise
It is important to exercise on a regular basis to keep your body healthy. However, you can do particular exercises such as weight-bearing exercises that will help to strengthen your bones. These include walking, running and dancing.
Eat Foods that are High in Calcium
Our bodies need calcium to make our bones strong, especially as we grow older. Eating calcium-rich foods is the most effective way to increase your body’s calcium level so eating foods like yoghurt, cheese, dried fruit and green vegetables will help in the fight against brittle bones. Drinking milk is also recommended.
Take Vitamin D
Although getting out in the sunshine and eating oily fish are great ways of getting vitamin D into your body, most people still need more to help their bones absorb calcium. Consequently, taking a daily supplement can really help to increase your vitamin D level and help your bones grow stronger.
If you think you may be at risk of osteoporosis, it’s best to talk to your doctor. In the meantime, follow our tips to ensure you keep your bones healthier for longer! For more information about age-related health issues, pop over to our health page or get in touch via our social media.