We all have a friend or family member who has fractured a bone due to bone density deterioration in old age. We know that as we grow older, our bones tend to grow weak and vulnerable to fractures. This phenomenon is known as osteoporosis. We all know that this is a natural part of ageing. But can we prevent it?
In this article let us take a closer look at the causes, symptoms, and prevention of this condition.
What is osteoporosis?
Also known as degenerative arthritis, osteoporosis is a medical condition characterised by reduced bone mass, caused due to physiological and hormonal changes in the elderly. Though it is commonly observed in elderly women due to a fall in oestrogen levels after menopause, men are equally at a risk of developing this condition.
A patient with this condition has thinner and weaker bones, and is more vulnerable to fractures.
What are its symptoms?
This condition is not apparent in the initial stages, but the following symptoms are commonly observed, as it worsens:
- A reduction in height
- Dull pain in bones, especially in the neck or lower back
- Sharp pain in any one part of the body that worsens when the sensitive part undergoes physical strain
- Broken bones (commonly in the spine or foot)
- Bones fracture easily upon falling
How to detect osteoporosis?
This condition can be detected with the help of bone density screening and other medical examinations.
Consulting the doctor before the condition worsens can help in its prevention and treatment. If you experience pain in bones or muscles, bring it to the notice of your physician without further delay.
How to prevent it?
Adequate exercise and a balanced diet are the surest means of preventing this condition. Let us take a closer look at the necessary preventive measures:
Take in adequate amounts of Calcium:
Calcium is vital to building bone density and improving bone strength. We should consume approximately 1000mg of calcium every day. Women must consume 1200mg of calcium after menopause. This can be derived either from diet or from calcium supplements. To compose a calcium-rich diet, include milk and dairy products like yoghurt, cottage cheese, and butter in it.
Consume milk and dairy products for healthy bones
Calcium can also be obtained from green vegetables such as kale and broccoli. Adequate consumption of calcium can keep your bones healthy and prevent their deterioration.
Consume Vitamin D:
D-Vitamin plays an important role in bone health by aiding the absorption of calcium and phosphorus which are vital for bone development. Our body can naturally synthesise Vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. This is why it is suggested that you exercise in the open in the early hours of the day, when the sun isn’t too harsh.
Exposure to sun is a vital source of Vitamin D
Vitamin D can also be obtained by consuming salmon, eggs, sardines and meat. Milk with vitamin D supplements is also available in the market.
Exercising regularly for at least 30 minutes a day, can improve muscle strength and prevent weakness and the tendency to fall. Maintaining a consistent exercise regimen can reduce the risk of fractures by improving bone and muscle strength. Stick to a daily exercise schedule and do any physical activity that you enjoy and are sure to continue.
Exercise improves bone and muscle strength and reduces the risk of fractures
Smoking has been proven to prevent calcium absorption, thereby speeding up bone loss. Therefore, it is suggested that you quit smoking immediately for healthier lungs, heart, and bones.
Smoking prevents calcium absorption and increases bone loss
Some classes of drugs such as glucocorticoids and barbiturates cause reduced bone density, upon prolonged usage. Consult your physician to find out if you are using such medicines and seek appropriate alternatives.
Some medicines reduce bone density and increase the risk of fracture.
Patients of osteoporosis are more prone to falls and fractures, due to weak bones and improper balance. Also, people with this condition take longer time to mend fractured bones. Therefore, falling down should be prevented to reduce the risk of fractures. The following measures can be taken to reduce the risk of falling:
- Consult an eye specialist to ensure that you have a sharp eyesight.
- Prevent tripping and falling by removing unwanted wires, chords, or clothes on the floor.
- Use a floor mat that improves your grip on the floor.
- Use appropriate footwear with soles that firmly grip the floor.
- Avoid spilling liquids on the floor to prevent slipping and falling.
- Install handles and support bars wherever necessary.
- Ensure proper lighting in the house, especially near staircases and entrance ways.
With adequate care, proper diet, exercise, and appropriate life style changes, osteoporosis is not only curable, but also preventable. For complete information and assistance, talk to your physician and take his advice. After all, building awareness is the first step to preventing any condition. Here’s to a longer and happier life!