Our bones are constructed of ever-changing living tissues, and our body relies upon calcium and phosphate to maintain strong bones. With time, our bodies reabsorb all minerals without storing them in our bones, resulting in bone loss.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that is common to older people worldwide. Studies show that around 200 million people worldwide are affected by Osteoporosis. In India, over 50 million people are osteoporotic with a T-score less than 2.5 and have a lower bone mass. Let us learn how it is affecting the overall health of seniors.
What is Osteoporosis?
The word Osteoporosis stands for porous bone. From the microscopic overview, a healthy bone might look like a honeycomb, while a bone with Osteoporosis has larger spaces and holes. A bone affected with Osteoporosis is brittle, has less density, and is more inclined to fractures.
Osteoporosis can be asymptomatic, and most people do not realise they have this disease until a bone fracture occurs. Therefore it is often referred to as a ‘silent’ disease. Osteoporosis can lead to painful broken bones referred to as fragility fractures. A person with serious fragility fractures can lose their ability to walk, shrink in height, and face deformities which can cause a lowered lifestyle. If ignored, the complications can lead to the death of older people.
Who is Likely to Develop Osteoporosis?
Although both men and women are inclined to have this disease, women are highly inclined to have this disease by four times more than men. Osteoporosis is mainly found in older people, and however, women start developing it after menopause. Asian women and Non-Hispanic white females are most inclined to develop this disease, while Hispanic and black women are less likely to get this disease.
Why Could you Develop Osteoporosis?
The risk factors leading to Osteoporosis are many. It can also be related to age and gender. Women health after experiencing menopause can face rapid bone loss in the first ten years. There are other risk factors as well:
- Body weight and body frame: Small-framed thin people have less bone density to lose than people with broad frames and higher body weight. This leaves thin people at greater risk of developing Osteoporosis.
- Family history: Osteoporosis might be hereditary, especially if any close family member is affected with Osteoporosis. Chances are you might develop the same.
- Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions like Thyroid disorders, HIV/AIDS, Rheumatoid arthritis, Anorexia nervosa, blood diseases, stroke, Celiac disease, weight-loss operations, and gastrectomy make you more sensitive to Osteoporosis.
- Certain medications: Repeated medications can cause vital damage to your bones, leading to an enhanced risk of Osteoporosis. Examples: Steroids, hormone treatments related to prostate or breast cancer, anti-seizure medications, antacids that contain aluminium, and Chemotherapeutic drugs for treating Cancer.
- Smoking and drinking alcohol: Excessive smoking prevents the body from using dietary calcium. Even drinking excessively can increase the risk of Osteoporosis.
- Nutritional deficiency: If your diet does not include calcium or calcium supplements, vitamin D, which helps the body utilize the calcium absorbed, you might have a higher risk of Osteoporosis.
- Lack of exercise: The more physical activities you are involved in, the lesser the chance of developing Osteoporosis since exercise helps your bones to stay strong.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
In most cases, people do not get to know about severe osteoporosis development until they face bone fracture. However, signs like loss of height by 1 inch, lower back pain, abnormal changes of posture, and shortness of breath can be related to Osteoporosis.
How to Diagnose Osteoporosis?
To diagnose Osteoporosis, one must go through a bone density test which can enlighten about the health of your bones. In this inexpensive health check up, one can quickly determine if there are any osteoporotic fractures. The dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scan can measure the mineral contents such as calcium and phosphate of your bones with the help of a low-level x-ray. It is always recommended that women aged 65 or older, menopausal or postmenopausal should go for a hip and spine bone density test. Even patients who have previously suffered from breakage of bone due to minor injury should also get their bone density checked after reaching 50 years of age.
Treatment of Osteoporosis
Following some important lifestyle changes, taking medication and supplements can help treat Osteoporosis.
- Medication: In case of bone density lower than a -2.5 T-score, you will have to take prescribed medications to strengthen your bones. Drugs such as hormone-related treatment, biologics, anabolic agents, and bisphosphonates can be proven ideal to treat your fractured bone safely.
- However, medications mostly depend upon the age or menopausal stage of women. Therefore consulting a doctor is the best option to treat Osteoporosis effectively. Medications are prescribed considering the amount of bone loss as well as your health issues. You can choose to take medicines in the form of injection, liquid, or pill.
- Dietary Supplements: To cure Osteoporosis, the most effective solution is to increase calcium and vitamin D intake. Studies show that most adults around age 50 need to take 800-1000 IU of vitamin D daily, and women aged 51 must get 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Multivitamin intake can also balance out nutrients if it is impossible to absorb them via healthy food.
- Lifestyle Changes: Avoiding tobacco products, limited alcohol, and caffeine consumption, and regular exercise can lead to the prevention of bone loss. Exercise will boost your muscle strength, improve body posture and balance and alleviate pain.
Since Osteoporosis is a common health condition for the elderly, it is always safer to take precautions before even determining any sign of this disease. Take daily health supplements, go through regular health check-ups, ensure your floor has non-skid floor mats, and use footwear with non-slip bottoms to prevent sudden falls, which can lead to Osteoporosis.
What are the 5 symptoms of Osteoporosis?
Lower back pain, fragile bone leading to fractures, height loss by more than two inches, deformity or stooping of the spine, and receding gums are some of the symptoms of Osteoporosis.
Which foods should I avoid if I have Osteoporosis?
Although you should always consult a doctor before following a strict diet, avoiding salt, soda, caffeine, alcohol, red meat, fish liver oil, and wheat bran can positively impact your bone health. You must have healthy food in your daily diet.
What is the main cause of Osteoporosis?
Low calcium intake can lead to bone fractures and loss of bone density. Even being underweight increases the risk of Osteoporosis for both men and women.
Is walking beneficial for Osteoporosis?
Regular exercises such as brisk walking increase muscle mass and also strengthen bones. This leads to a reduced risk of bone fracture.
Which fruit is best for bones?
Vitamin C-infused foods such as bananas, oranges, prunes, grapefruits, papaya, strawberries, and vitamin K-rich fruits like grapes, plums, blueberries, and figs are best for bones.
What is the easiest and fastest way to naturally increase bone density?
Eating vegetables, strength training, weightlifting, protein-rich foods, foods that have omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy weight, and calcium consumption can increase your bone density naturally. Healthy food and regular exercise are key to improving bone density.