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Take care to avoid osteoporosis
Health advice
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Contrary to what many people believe, osteoporosis is not an inevitable part of aging.
When a strong skeletal frame is built in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, osteoporosis does not occur. It is the difference between how much healthy bone is formed during the first 28 or so years of life and the rate at which it is removed later that determines how much osteoporosis a person has.
An insidious condition that drains away bone slowly, osteoporosis is often called a “silent disease” because bone loss occurs without symptoms and most people don’t realize they have it until their bones become so weak that a strain, bump or fall causes a fracture or a vertebra to collapse.
Collapsed vertebrae is often felt or seen in severe back pain, loss of height, or spinal deformities such stooped posture.
Osteoporosis actually means “porous bones” and any bone can be affected,
but of special concern are the hip and spine. These, especially fractures of the hip, almost always require hospitalization and major surgery and can impair a person’s ability to walk unassisted and may even lead to death.
Spinal or vertebral fractures also have serious consequences, including loss of height, severe back pain and deformity.
Women are four times more likely than men to develop the disease. One out of two women and one in eight men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture.
Women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone mass in the five to seven years following menopause, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis. An overactive thyroid gland can also be a problem and some medicines can cause loss of bone mass.
Smoking causes your body to make less estrogen which protects the bones. You should also limit how much alcohol you drink. Too much alcohol can damage your bones.
Osteoporosis is preventable. A diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D and
a lifestyle that includes
regular, weight-bearing exercise are the best ways to prevent weakened bones. There are five steps that, together, can optimize bone health and help prevent osteoporosis:
• A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
• Weight-bearing and resistance-training exercises
• A healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol intake
• Talking to one’s healthcare professional about bone health
• Bone density testing and medication when appropriate
You should be screened for Osteoporosis if:
You are a woman older than 30 with more than one risk factor; family history of osteoporosis, small frame/thin body build, low-calcium intake, high alcohol/caffeine intake, post-menopausal, amenorrhea, low testosterone, fracture as an adult, sedentary lifestyle, smoke, eating disorder and use certain medications, such as steroids.
Many of the risk factors also apply to men.
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