A bone to pick.

Some things don’t get better with time. This is especially true of your bones. A common condition associated with aging is Osteoporosis.

WHAT IT IS

Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease in which bones become fragile and porous over time. If left untreated, osteoporosis can be crippling. Any bone can be affected but of special concern are weight-bearing bones like the hip, spine and wrist. Osteoporosis may cause permanent disability or even death. Fractures caused by osteoporosis can have serious consequences, including loss of height, severe back pain, and deformity.

RISK FACTORS

Unfortunately, osteoporosis is primarily associated with age. The older you are, the greater your risk of osteoporosis. Other risk factors include:
Gender. Women are more prone to osteoporosis because of the changes involved in menopause.
Bone structure. Small-boned and thin women are at greater risk.
Menstrual history. Early menopause increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. An early pregnancy can further escalate the risk.
Lifestyle. As usual, excessive booze and smoking are held guilty. Inadequate dietary calcium and lack of exercise increase the chances of developing osteoporosis.
Medications and disease. Certain drugs like corticosteroids and diseases like hyperthyroidism and arthritis can add to the risk.
Genes. Osteoporosis tends to run in families.

PREVENTION

Think of your bones as a bank. The more you deposit early on, the more you can draw later. Building strong bones, especially before 30, and a healthy lifestyle can be the best defense against osteoporosis. Actually, under medical guidance, even an elder can undertake a graded exercise program. The best way to assess your risk and diagnose osteoporosis, is to get a bone density test.

Blausen_0095_BoneDensitometryScan.png
Attribution: Bruce Blaus

WHAT IF?

If you have osteoporosis, don’t panic. The condition can be treated. Estrogen is prescribed for post-menopausal women. Alendronate is an effective inhibitor of bone loss and is the current drug of choice. Raloxifene is the latest drug on the scene.

Calcium and vitamin D play an important role in maintaining bone mass. But don’t gulp just any Calcium/Vit D supplement. Check the brand first and ask your doctor. You can still do supervised exercise to strengthen your bones and increase flexibility.

PRECAUTIONS

Take care to prevent a fall. Several drugs can cause dizziness, so watch out for side-effects. Wear sturdy, rubber-soled shoes. Minimize clutter in your house. Remove all loose wires, cords, and clean up any spills immediately. Install grab bars in the bathroom and make sure stairway and corridors are well lit.

Above all, try not to worry. Osteoporosis can be controlled, it needn’t tarnish the gold of your golden years.

Cheers … Srini.

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