Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by a weakening of the bones that increases the risk of fractures. It can also cause the cartilage between the bones in the spine to wear down, causing a decrease in height. Most often, osteoporosis affects individuals over the age of 50 and the condition is four times as likely in women than men. The condition is not pleasant, but it can be treated and avoided. Learn more about you need to know about osteoporosis so you can keep your bones healthy.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
The bones in the body go through a process that involves old bone being replaced by new tissue. As you get older, this process slows down so old bone isn’t replaced as quickly. Eventually, you can reach a point where more bone is being broken down than being replaced. When this occurs, spaces between bones start to get bigger so the bone itself becomes weaker. This increases the risk of fractures. Many people will not realize they have osteoporosis until a bone breaks.
While osteoporosis can be a natural part of aging, you will be more prone to it if you:
- Are a white or Asian woman
- Had early menopause
- Are a smoker
- Had a hysterectomy before menopause
- Don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet
- Are not physically active
- Have a small frame
- Take certain medications
How to Prevent Osteoporosis
Certain lifestyle choices can reduce your risk of osteoporosis. A healthy diet that includes plenty of calcium and vitamin D is recommended.
It’s also important to get a good amount of physical activity. Weight bearing exercises like weightlifting, hiking, walking, dancing, and climbing stairs is especially recommended for preventing osteoporosis.
How to Treat Osteoporosis
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, there are several things you can do to slow down bone loss. Lifestyle changes such as eating a healthier diet and engaging in physical activity can be helpful. You should also talk to your doctor about medications you can take to reduce bone loss and regrow bones.
Can I Be Tested for Osteoporosis?
There are screenings that can determine whether you have osteoporosis. Women 65 and over should be screened regularly as should women under 65 who are at high risk for the condition. An early diagnosis will help you treat the issue before it’s too late. While screenings are most often recommended for women, it is important to remember that osteoporosis can happen to men as well. If you are a man and feel you are at risk, talk to your doctor to find out what measures you should be taking to keep your bones healthy.
What is Osteopenia?
Osteopenia is a loss of bone mineral density and it can be a precursor to osteoporosis. If your doctor diagnoses you with osteopenia, you should be taking measures to ensure osteoporosis doesn’t develop later in life.
To learn more about current research and treatment options for osteoporosis, visit the The National Institutes of Health’s “Overview of Osteoporosis.”
For an diagnosis by a medical professional, please speak with your doctor or primary care provider.