Osteoporosis is a very real and serious problem that affects most women when they reach middle age. In fact, it is seen that more women suffer from this problem than men. The disease is mainly triggered by a calcium and Vitamin D deficiency in the body. This leads to loss of bone density and bone thinning. When bones lose density, they become much more prone to weakness, fracturing, breaking and the patient is more likely to feel aches and pains in the bone. Now when it comes to bone health, osteoporosis is a condition that is quite preventable and manageable, just so long as it is detected early enough.
And today we’ll be looking deeper into the condition for ways of detection as well as solutions. So, to start…
What is osteoporosis?
The word osteoporosis literally translates to ‘porous bones’ in English. And this is exactly what happens. As the bones lose calcium because of the body’s inherent calcium deficiency, the bones start to lose the mineral and microscopic holes start to appear. The result is that the bones start to become porous. Of course, this also weakens the bones considerably, and this can result in:
- Broken bones or fractures happen more frequently.
- Even seemingly low impact falls can result in fractures – owing to the weakness of the bones.
- Women with the problem complain of more bone aches.
The condition can usually be detected through a bone density screening. As the bones weaken and lose mass, they also become less dense. Therefore a simple screening can detect this degeneration both in quality and density of bones. In fact, a result of anything less than -2.5 in a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test is usually indicative of osteoporosis.
Now while most accounts will tell you that the risk factors start only at about 60 or 70 years of age, osteoporosis can affect anyone, even middle aged women. Bone is living tissue that is constantly being repaired and replaced, like all other cells in the body. But in the case of certain people with Calcium or other mineral deficiency, or even Vitamin D deficiency, the pace of bone degeneration is far higher than the speed at which it is being restored. This results in bone loss and osteoporosis.
Now, when it comes to osteoporosis, you obviously do not want to wait till it reaches the fracture stage – when you know you are in your risk years, you obviously want to check for weakened bones and low bone density. But how do you know if you are even at a risk? Well, the first way to check is usually to look for some simple tell-tale signs. And we’ll deal with those now.
How can you tell that you have osteoporosis?
There are a number of ways and the most common ones are listed here:
- If you think you are at risk, you can go for a simple blood test to check for deficiencies. The factors to test for in the blood are alkaline phosphatase or serum calcium.
- If you find it painful to stand up from a chair and your joint feels achy and not totally in your control, you should go in for a test.
- If your general pulse rate is higher than 80 beats per minute
- If you feel frequent pains in your muscles and joints
- If you are noticing a loss in height
- If you feel that you are starting to stoop and your spine is becoming curved
- If you have any estrogen imbalances – this is because optimum levels of estrogen are essential for bone health
If you think you have any of the above then you should ideally consult your doctor and ask to be tested for osteoporosis. Alternately, people can also be diagnosed even before any of the symptoms actually surface. How? Well, as long as you know the risk factors, you can decide for yourself.
What factors put you at a risk?
There are a number of factors that are scientifically proven to have an intrinsic link with osteoporosis. If you think you have any of these conditions, then also you should see your doctor for a diagnosis before you actually get a fracture or worse!
Obviously women over 65 are at a greater risk, but any middle aged woman, especially one with more than a few of the following risk factors in common, should go in for a screening:
- If someone else in your family, a direct relative, has it
- If you smoke
- If you have low Vitamin D levels
- If you have a calcium deficit diet
- If you lead a sedentary lifestyle
- If you have more than 1-2 drinks a day (daily)
- If you drink more than 3 cups of coffee a day(daily)
- If you had an early menopause
- If you have low estrogen levels
- If you have thyroid diseases
- If you have kidney or liver issues
- If you have conditions that affect the way your body absorbs nutrition from food – like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome
- If you have rheumatoid arthritis
All of the above increase the chances of osteoporosis, and if they apply to you, then you should consult a doctor about osteoporosis right about when you hit middle age. If detected early enough, the damage is actually reversible and all the serious symptoms preventable!
How can you manage the condition?
When you first get diagnosed, chances are your doctor will prescribe you medications. But in case your doctor hasn’t you can always ask him and go ahead with any of the following means…
1. Supplements of vitamins and minerals
2. Exercise to strengthen bones and prevent bone loss
3. Natural remedies to help your body
And with that you come to the end of the discussion on Bone health, Osteoporosis in particular. All that is left for you to do is check out the solutions to the problem. And once you have done that, you will be able to maintain your regular quality life for many more years to come!