Chronic Ailments Patient Awareness

Osteoporosis: All You Need to Know

Osteoporosis
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The Latin word ‘Osteoporosis’ means ‘porous bones.’ As the name suggests, this is a bone condition where the bones get weak. The disease is usually more prevalent amongst the older population especially the women populace. Healthy bones typically include small space inside them that are similar to a honeycomb. In this disease, the size of these spaces increases which causes the bones to lose their strength and density. Over time, the bones also grow weaker and thinner.

There is no defined age group which is more susceptible to this condition; it can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any age. People with osteoporosis are often at high risk of fractures that can occur while doing day-to-day activities such as standing, walking, etc. Affected areas include spine, wrist bones, ribs, and hips.

Symptoms

Osteoporosis is a silent disease and unfortunately, does not show any early signs or warnings. Many patients do not realize that they have osteoporosis until they break a bone.

However, many medical experts suggest some early signs that you should be watchful of:

  • Weakened grip strength
  • Brittle nails
  • Receding Gums
  • Sudden and severe back pain
  • Loss of height

Risks Factors

While the symptoms of this disease are pretty silent, you can keep an eye on these risk factors to better predict this disease. These entail:

  1. Family history – If any close member of your family suffers from osteoporosis and fractures, it clearly indicates a low bone density in the family since your bone strength is generally inherited.
  1. Lifestyle factors – Many lifestyle factors also play a crucial role in contracting this condition. These include:
  • Smoking
  • Weight – this could be both – thin as well as obese people. However, many studies suggest that hormones associated with obesity play an essential role in the development of osteoporosis
  • Inactivity or low levels of physical activity

Prevention

Ensure that adequate bone health is maintained. This involves:

  • Adequate calcium levels that should be maintained
  • Adequate Vitamin D levels that should be maintained
  • Regular exercising
  • Avoiding alcohol and smoking

Bone density test

The bone density test is an effective test to diagnose osteoporosis. In this test, a Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scan is done. This is a quick, painless test that measures the bone density of the bones in the hip and spine since these bones are most commonly affected by osteoporosis. This test gives a T-Score – a score that compares your bone density with the average of healthy young adults. A low T-score (-2.5 or lower) indicates osteoporosis.

With such a score, your doctor will start osteoporosis medication and ensure adequate levels of Calcium and Vitamin D are maintained in the body.

Along with food and medication, performing the right kind of exercises can also help to support the health of the bones.

Certain weight-bearing exercises that are helpful include:

  1. Weight training – using dumbbells, resistance bands
  2. Stairs climbing
  3. Resistance training such as squats, pushups

However, always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regime and start performing them only when you receive a go-ahead.

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