Osteoporosis: What You Can Do Now
Did you know that one in three women over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporotic fracture? That is quite a few women affected by this disease. While most often associated with women, osteoporosis also affects men. One in five men over the age of 50 will also suffer some kind of osteoporotic fracture.
What is Osteoporosis?
The definition of osteoporosis is "porous bone", more specifically meaning that the quality and density of a person's bones is reduced over time. As those bones become more porous, they become more fragile and the risk of breaking a bone becomes increased. Unfortunately there are often no visible symptoms of this bone quality decline until a person experiences a break or fracture.
Our bodies are living tissue, and therefore constantly changing. They begin growing and getting more dense from the moment we are born until our early 20s. This is when bones are at their peak bone mass"; at their strongest during this time.
Bones undergo a constant remodeling process, which is where bone cells dissolve and are absorbed, while new cells are formed. This ongoing process is what keeps our bones strong and healthy. For people with osteoporosis, the dissolution and loss of bone cells outpaces the growth of new bones.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
The leading cause if a lack of certain hormones. In women this is a low level of estrogen, and for men it is a low level of the androgen hormone. After menopause, women experience lower levels of estrogen which then can further contributes to the loss of bone density.
Osteoporosis occurs over a number of years. While menopause and older age are commonly associated with this disease, the damage to bones can begin much earlier. Our bodies need both calcium and phosphate to facility the remodeling process of bone growth. Calcium is necessary for multiple functions in the body throughout our entire lives, so without sufficient levels of this mineral our bodies cannot function or grow properly.
A lack of weight-bearing exercise can also contribute to weaker bones. Because bones are living tissue, weight-bearing physical activity causes new bone tissue to form, which in turn makes bones stronger. Both bones and muscles will become stronger with this kind of exercise.
Other Risk Factors
Here are additional risk factors to be aware of. While some you have no control over, others can be changed, particularly the lifestyle choices that will be positive changes in your life overall.
- Caucasian and Asian women run a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Smoking has been proven to have a direct effect on decreasing bone density.
- Small-framed people or those who are very thin
- Prolonged use of certain medications
- Excessive alcohol use
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Sedentary lifestyle
Can Osteoporosis Be Predicted?
There are bone density tests that your healthcare provider can perform to diagnose osteoporosis before a break or fracture occurs. These tests estimate the density of your bones and can determine how much risk you are at of a fracture occurring. This test uses X-rays to measure how much calcium and other necessary bone minerals are contained in a particular segment of gone. Most common areas to test are in the hips, spine and sometimes the forearm.
Ask your healthcare provider about a bone density test. Your doctor is also likely to perform this test if a person is getting shorter, literally losing height. Typically a person who has lost around 4cm of height may have compression fractures in their spine that is caused by the onset of osteoporosis.
While there is no "cure" for this silent disease, certain lifestyle choices can help with reducing your risk. As noted above, a healthy and active lifestyle has a very positive effect on the development of osteoporosis.
The Villas Senior Care Community
The Villas Senior Care Community in Sherman is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care for seniors from independent living settings up to long-term skilled nursing. You can learn more about our campus, our history and our commitment to care by visiting our website.