If you, your family member or a friend have just been diagnosed with osteoporosis, there is a number of things you should know about this condition. We will discuss in greater detail what causes it, how to treat it, and what can you do to prevent it – so keep reading and find answers to your questions.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, or “thinning bones”, is a disease which affects human bones and increases the risk of broken bone. The International Osteoporosis Foundation reports that osteoporosis “causes more than 8.9 fractures annually” and is more frequent in women.
According to IOF data, it affects 10% of women aged 60, 20% of women aged 70, and about 33% of women aged 90. It is estimated that 75 million people in Europe, USA and Japan are affected by it.
Even though women are more likely to get fractures, “men generally have higher rates of fracture related mortality,” explains IOF and estimates that by 2025, the number of hip fractures worldwide caused by osteoporosis in men will be approximately at the same level as in women in 1990.
How do I get osteoporosis?
The most frequent risk factor for osteoporosis is ageing, being of the female sex, having low body weight, in menopause (which subsumes the defect in sex hormones), as well as smoking and some types of medications, such as corticosteroids, that is – their prolonged use. Low physical activity and sedentary lifestyle can also increase the risk of osteoporosis development. Another important risk factor is genetics, which means that parental history of (hip) fracture increases the risk in offspring, according to IOF.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
The bad thing about osteoporosis is that a person does not realise it has it until bone fracture occurs. Besides this, the symptoms of osteoporosis include backache; hip, spine or wrist fractures; as well as gradual loss of height and the characteristic hunched posture.
What can I do to prevent osteoporosis?
As mentioned, osteoporosis induced bone loss can be caused by two major risk factors: genetics and environmental. Even though we cannot change our genetic code, we can change our behaviour while there is still the time.
The first thing you can do is to have a bone density test which evaluates the strength of your bone tissue. Based on the results, the doctors will probably tell you what you should do next (drug treatment and pain relief treatments, for example).
Regular exercise and physical activity (both in childhood as well as in the old age) is essential to osteoporosis prevention. You can also change your nutrition, that is, improve it, by adding enough fish oil, fresh fruit and vegetables rich in calcium which builds bone tissue. Another thing you can add to your nutrition is regular doses of calcium supplements which you should take on a regular basis. And of course, you should spend enough time out in the sunshine, because sunlight exposure produces vitamin D, which is essential for bone recovery.
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