Our bones are the sturdy framework that supports our bodies, enabling us to move, stand tall and embrace an active lifestyle. Yet, sometimes we overlook the importance of maintaining and nourishing these vital structures until an issue arises, such as osteoporosis.
What is osteoporosis? Often referred to as the “silent disease,” osteoporosis silently weakens our bones, making them more prone to fractures and impacting our overall quality of life. However, the good news is that with awareness, knowledge and proactive measures, we can take steps to protect and strengthen our bones and prevent osteoporosis. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Osteoporosis? The Basics
The word osteoporosis means “porous bone.” It’s a disease that occurs when the body’s bone mass decreases, doesn’t make enough bone, or both, which causes the bones to become weak and brittle. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), approximately 10 million Americans currently have the condition, with another 43 million at risk for the disease due to low bone density.
We can’t feel our bones getting weaker as we age, however, most people discover they have osteoporosis after a fracture when the pain becomes chronic. Complicating matters, osteoporosis greatly increases your chances of a fracture, even from a minor event like bumping into furniture.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
The first step in osteoporosis prevention is understanding the risk factors for getting the disease. These risk factors include:
Your gender. Women make up 80 percent of the people who have osteoporosis. However, men over the age of 50 are more likely to break a bone from osteoporosis than get prostate cancer.
Your age. Although you can get osteoporosis at any age, people over the age of 65 are more likely than younger people to have it.
Your body type. Being small and thin puts you more at risk for osteoporosis. However, this doesn’t mean larger body types are not at risk, too.
Your medications and current health. Certain medicines like steroids that are used to treat asthma, allergies or arthritis can cause osteoporosis, as well as other medical conditions like celiac disease or diabetes. Talk to your doctor about your medications and health issues to see if you might be more at risk for osteoporosis.
Your family history. If family members had osteoporosis, it’s more likely that you will have it, too. While it’s possible they may have gone undiagnosed, if you know they suffered from broken bones or a curved spine, it’s entirely possible they had it.
Your lifestyle. Exercising and eating healthy foods, as well as getting enough calcium and vitamin D, can help prevent bone loss. You’re more at risk for osteoporosis if you live a sedentary lifestyle, smoke cigarettes or drink an excessive amount of alcohol.
Everyone can take measures to ensure they’re decreasing their chances of osteoporosis. The NOF recommends these five steps to start improving your bone health and preventing the onset of osteoporosis:
Take your vitamins. Getting the correct daily amount of vitamin D and calcium is vital to preventing osteoporosis, so eat a well-balanced diet and talk to your doctor or pharmacist about supplements you may need to take.
Be proactive. If you are a woman who has reached menopause or a man 50 or older, get a bone mineral density test. Or at the very least, have a discussion with your doctor about when you should get one.
Stay active. Since your bones get stronger when you make them work, make sure to exercise regularly, focusing on weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises.
Make good choices. Make the necessary healthy adjustments to your lifestyle. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use.
Listen to your doctor. Take the osteoporosis medication prescribed for you when the time comes to help prevent broken bones.
Strong bones are not simply a concern for the elderly; they are a lifelong pursuit. By incorporating these strategies into our daily lives, we can fortify our bones and minimize the impact of osteoporosis.
Quality Care at ACV Health
Looking for a health care provider who truly cares about you? ACV Health offers comprehensive care in a convenient and familiar environment. At each appointment, you are welcomed with the warmth of a small doctor’s office while still receiving the scale of care available from a much larger facility. Our services range from primary and specialty care to rehabilitation and an on-site pharmacy.
Call today to schedule an appointment – our friendly providers would love to speak with you.