Osteoporosis is a disease that makes your bones weak:- This can result in decreased bone strength and increased fracture risk. For an elderly person breaking a major bone like the hip is very serious and can lead to months of recovery and sometimes very serious complications including death. Not only is such an injury painful and the recovery prolonged, it is sometimes no longer possible for the patient to live in their home. Preventing the fracture is better than treating it once it occurs.
It is not only the elderly and women who develop abnormal bone density and weak bones:- Even young athletes at the peak of their athletic careers (particularly women who may have poor diets or even eating disorders and abnormal menstrual cycles) can have osteoporosis. Sometimes, people just absorb nutrients poorly or have low levels of vitamin D, a necessary vitamin for building bone. In such young athletes, stress fractures can occur and be very difficult to treat.
How can you know if you have a bone density problem?:- Unfortunately, in it’s early stages osteoporosis does not cause symptoms. Bone mineral density (BMD) is measured by a DEXA scan. This non-invasive test provides a measure of bone strength and fracture risk. Osteoporosis in post-menopausal women is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a BMD value at the forearm, hip or spine of 2.5 or more standard deviations (SD) from the young adult mean. This is reported as a T-score (T< -2.5) with or without fracture. Osteopenia (thinning of the bone or low bone mass) is defined as T-score between 1 and 2.5 SD from the mean (T= -1 to -2.5). The DEXA scan can be repeated 2 years after initiation of medication for osteopenia or osteoporosis. It is recommended that all women over the age of 65 years be screened as well as certain individuals with other risk factors.
You can help maintain healthy bones in a variety of ways including eating foods high in calcium and vitamin D, taking supplements as recommended by your doctor, exercising for 30 minutes 5 days per week, avoiding excessive alcohol intake (not more than 1-2 drinks per day) and not smoking. Do your part now to keep your bones strong.