Osteoporosis is a world-wide disease occurring in both men and women. However the ratio of cases in women to men is 4:1. Osteoporosis is often referred to as the silent disease because it begins at an early age, has no symptoms and only becomes apparent later in life.
Bone resorption and bone deposition is an ongoing process within the skeletal system where bones break down and are replenished by the digestive system. Diet patterns, exercise, alcohol and tobacco use have a significant effect on bone in the long term. Osteoporosis is a progressive disease where bone resorption (break down) exceeds the rate of bone deposition (replenishing). Bone becomes thin and weak and a woman’s body is prone to fractures especially in the hip, vertebrae and wrist. A sudden fall resulting in a fracture often reveals that a woman has this disease. It is discovered most often in postmenopausal women due to lower levels of estrogen which assists the body in absorbing calcium.
In April 2013 the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) announced its most recent data and revealed that 57 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis or low bone mass, both of which put an individual at risk for bone fractures. In May the NOF took a stand and began an initiative known as “Break Free from Osteoporosis” in order to increase awareness of risk factors and necessary lifestyle changes for prevention. Read the NOF’s 25 Ways to Improve Your Bone Health (PDF) and get started today!
But here’s the good news: osteoporosis is often preventable. You can protect yourself by making healthy lifestyle choices early in life with an aim to build and maintain strong bones. Weight bearing exercise such as walking is a great way to minimize bone loss. We’re fortunate to have a great network of walking trails here in Frederick County. Find one and get out there to support your bone health!
Some Major Risk Factors for Osteoporosis are:
- Aging, especially postmenopausal women
- Family history
- Caucasian race
- Inadequate nutrition
- Alcohol and tobacco abuse
- Immobility or sedentary lifestyle
- Steroid use
Keep these risk factors in mind and talk with your doctor about having a bone mineral density test or adding calcium and vitamin D supplementation. Keep an eye on your height, too; losing inches is a good predictor of bone loss.
As always, having a good relationship with your doctor will help you take better care of yourself. It can be hard to remember every question we wanted to ask when we finally schedule that appointment and have one-on-one time with our doctors. However, sometimes we forget to ask questions or feel rushed when in the office. How to Talk to Your Doctor or Nurse (PDF) offers some great tips to help you and your doctor get the most out of every visit.
Have a question about osteoporosis? Reach out to Women’s Health Navigator Trish Reggio at email@example.com or call 240-215-1447.