Osteoporosis is a disease that makes your bones weak. Those with the disease can break their bones too easily with minimal trauma such as a fall. The fracture can be serious, especially if the bone is in the hip. It may need surgical treatment. Despite surgical treatment, some patients will have a poor outcome and may need care in a nursing home afterwards. That is why it is so important to avoid breaking a bone in the first place.
Osteoporosis does not cause symptoms until you break a bone. However, your doctor can have you tested for it. The best test is a bone density test called a dexa scan. It is a special kind of X-ray.
Guidelines recommend bone density testing for females older than 70 years old. That is because people in this group have the highest risk of osteoporosis. Some other people should sometimes be tested too (for instance those who has been treated with steroids for a long time).
Some people learn that they have osteoporosis because they break a bone during a fall or mild impact. This is called a “fragility fracture,” because people with healthy bones should not break a bone that easily. People who have fragility fractures are at high risk of having other bones break.
What to do to protect your bones?
- Eat foods with a lot of calcium, such as milk, yogurt, and green leafy vegetables
- Eat foods with a lot of vitamin D, such as milk that has vitamin D added, and fish from the ocean
- Take calcium and vitamin D pills (if you do not get enough from the food that you eat)
- Be active for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week
- Avoid smoking
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to 1 to 2 drinks a day at most
What else can I do to avoid fractures?
It sounds simple, but you can prevent a lot of fractures by reducing the chances of a fall. To do that:
- Make sure about safety of your environment: rugs have a no-slip backing to keep them in place, tuck away any electrical cords so they are not in your way, light all walkways well, watch out for slippery floors
- Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes with rubber soles
- Have your eyes checked every year
- See your doctor for a comprehensive check-up (For instance your blood pressure, whether any of your medicines might increase your risk of falling, etc)
Can osteoporosis be treated?
Yes, there are a few medicines to treat osteoporosis. These medicines can reduce the chances that you will break a bone.
Posted by Dr Hamed Zinsaz