What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis (oss-tee-oh-puh-ro-sis) is a condition that means your bones are weak, and you’re more likely to break a bone. Since there are no symptoms, you might not know your bones are getting weaker until you break a bone!
A broken bone can really affect a woman’s life. It can cause disability, pain, or loss of independence. It can make it harder to do daily activities without help, such as walking. This can make it hard to participate in social activities. It can also cause severe back pain and deformity.
2. What bones does Osteoporosis affect?
Osteoporosis can happen to any of your bones, but is most common in the hip, wrist, and in your spine, also called your vertebrae ( ver-tuh-bray). Vertebrae are important because these bones support your body to stand and sit upright.
Osteoporosis in the vertebrae can cause serious problems for women. A fracture in this area occurs from day-to-day activities like climbing stairs, lifting objects, or bending forward
- Sloping shoulders
- Curve in the back
- Height loss
- Back pain
- Hunched posture
- Protruding abdomen
3. What things cause me to have a higher chance of developing Osteoporosis?
Things that can increase your chances of developing osteoporosis include:
- being female
- small, thin body (under 127 pounds)
- family history of osteoporosis
- being postmenopausal or of an advanced age
- Caucasian or Asian race, but African American and Hispanic women are also at significant risk for developing the disease
- abnormal absence of menstrual periods or having an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia that can cause menstrual periods to stop before menopause, and loss of bone tissue from too much exercise
- low testosterone levels in men
- a diet low in dairy products or other sources of calcium and vitamin D
- inactive lifestyle
- long-term use of glucocorticoids (medicines prescribed for many diseases, including arthritis, asthma, and lupus) anti-seizure medications; gonadotropin releasing hormone for treatment of endometriosis; aluminum-containing antacids; certain cancer treatments; and excessive thyroid hormone
- cigarette smoking and drinking too much alcohol
4. How can I find our if I have weak bones?
There are tests you can get to find out your bone strength, also called bone density. One test is a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). A DEXA takes x-rays of your bones. There are also other types of bone strength tests too. Talk with your doctor or nurse about which type of test is best for you.
If you are age 65 and older, you should get a bone density test. If you are between ages 60 and 64, weigh less than 154 pounds, and don’t take estrogen, get a bone density test. Don’t wait until age 65. You have a higher chance for breaks.
5. How can I prevent weak bones?
The best way to prevent weak bones is easy―start by building strong ones.
No matter how old you are, it is never too late to start! Building strong bones during childhood and adolescence is the best defense against getting osteoporosis later. Building strong bones at a young age will lessen the effects of the natural bone loss that starts around age 30. As you get older, your bones don’t make new bone quickly enough to keep up with the bone loss. And after menopause, bone loss increases more quickly. But there are steps you can take to stop your bones from becoming weak and brittle.
- Get enough calcium
- Get enough vitamin D
- Eat healthy
- Make your home safe
- Quit smoking
- Drink alcohol in a moderate way