Early detection and lifestyle changes can make a huge difference to your quality of life
Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, faster than the body can replace them, leading to a loss in bone density. This results in fragile bones, with an increased chance of fractures.
We take a look at this disease.
Who is at risk?
It occurs in 55% of people aged above 50 years, with women at more of a risk than men because of menopause.
Anyone with the following risk factors attached are more at risk.
- Early menopause in women
- Low testosterone in men
- Coeliac disease or malabsorption disorders
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic kidney or liver disease
- Recurrent falls
- Some medication used to treat depression, epilepsy and breast cancer
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Minimal exercise
- Low body weight
Who should be tested?
Anyone over 50 with risk factors should be tested, but it’s particularly important for women over 65 and men over 70, or for anyone showing any sign of fragile bones.
What are the symptoms?
Osteoporosis is often referred to as ‘the silent disease’ as it doesn’t come with other symptoms. But if you are in the age bracket and have suffered a fracture, you should be checked for it as soon as possible.
How is it diagnosed?
The disease can be easily diagnosed using a bone density test, which is a non-evasive scan that takes less than five minutes and measures the thickness of your bones (usually at the hip and spine).
Is there a cure/treatment?
Treatment involves medication you can take to balance the constant breakdown and formation of new bone . Modifying your lifestyle with the right nutrition and exercise can be hugely beneficial. Making sure you get the right amounts of calcium and vitamin D are also essential to building strong, dense bones. Once diagnosed, the main aim is to prevent fractures.
There is certain medication that can be used in the event of pain, and a variety of pharmacological therapies that can be used for the treatment of Osteoporosis.
Can you prevent it?
There is no 100% way of preventing it but certain dietary changes and exercises can help in the prevention. Look after your general health well and you have a much better chance of not getting it. Additionally, it is critical to catch it in time, as early detection allows for a far better treatment program.
People are often not aware that they have Osteoporosis until they suffer their first fracture. This is often too far along in the disease for treatments to be properly effective.
The biggest problem is a lack of awareness, with many people around the world being completely unaware of the disease itself until they themselves are diagnosed with it.
Get your calcium intake right
Calcium is an essential mineral, particularly for building bones and keeping them healthy. Calcium also performs a range of other vital functions, but we lose calcium daily through our sweating, urine, faeces and skin. Unfortunately, our bodies do not produce calcium, so when we don’t get enough through nutrition, our bodies take calcium from our bones.
When it comes to Osteoporosis, make sure you are checked regularly, (if you are in the affected age group). The test is cheap and harmless, but detecting the disease early can make a huge difference to your quality of life in your senior years.