World Osteoporosis Day is celebrated by the World Health Organization on the 20th of October every year to highlight the causes behind this disease. Literally translated, the word osteoporosis means ‘porous bones’. Our bones, in their healthy form, are made up of small holes like those in a honeycomb. For people with osteoporosis, these holes are much larger in size making the bones weak and vulnerable to damage. This disease is an avoidable one, and care should be taken early on to prevent it.
The following facts about osteoporosis will help you get an idea of the nature and gravity of the disease:
1. It’s More Common Than You Think
Research studies show that one in every two women will break a bone after the age of 50 due to osteoporosis. Yes, this is exactly how common the disease is!
2. Both Men and Women Can Get It
Many people mistakenly assume that osteoporosis only affects women of an older age. This is not true. While men are at a lower risk than women, they too can suffer from brittle bones that are vulnerable to breakage after a certain age. According to research studies, every one in four men is liable to fracture a bone after the age of 50 with the root cause being osteoporosis.
3. Osteoporosis is Serious
Just because a sizeable segment of the population has it, doesn’t mean that it can’t wreak serious havoc in your life. The disease can be serious enough to cause bone breakage in key areas of the body such as the hips, spine or limbs. This can lead to subsequent breakages throughout the body due to bone weakness. Prolonged pain and slow healing is also a very real consequence of osteoporosis.
Studies also show that osteoporosis can affect your height too. Bone breakage or brittle bones lead to an inability for the bones to maintain an upright posture leading to a hunched or stooping posture.
4. It Can Be Costly
The older you get the more difficult it is for your body to heal on its own. Broken bones often require surgical repair, frequent checkups and prolonged prescriptions to control the spread of osteoporosis. Fractures of major bones, especially those of the spine or hips, require additional medical intervention which can lead to mounting hospital bills.
5. It Can Cause Depression
The more serious the condition, the more likely you are to injure yourself doing the slightest activity. For some patients, actions as small as a sneeze or a slight bump against someone or something, can cause bone fractures. This leads to an increasing need to take extra caution and refrain from doing any such activity that may add pressure to the already weakened bones. Patients are often unable to engage in all those activities that they enjoyed doing before they were affected by the condition which can lead to loneliness and depression.
6. It’s A Gradual Disease
Osteoporosis is often detected once bone breakage has already occurred. It is a silent disease that progresses quietly but gradually overtime. Other signs of osteoporosis include a stooping posture, a curve in the upper back, or feeling like you have suddenly become shorter than you used to be.
Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle
With a diet rich in calcium, vitamin D and Vitamin K, your bones will remain strong and resist the ravages of osteoporosis. While calcium is needed for bone fortification, it cannot be absorbed by the bones without vitamin D and Vitamin K. To get ample exposure to these nutrients, consume fresh vegetables especially those that sport rich colors (for instance, dark green vegetables). You should also have calcium rich foods such as milk and yoghurt. Exercise is also highly recommended.
What You Can Do
If you feel that the chances of you suffering from osteoporosis are high, consult your doctor immediately to ascertain whether you are a candidate for a bone density test. Through this test, your doctor will be able to guide you further if it is found that your bones are weaker than they should be. Always be mindful of your health, and maintain a habit of visiting your doctor for frequent checkups. Stay happy and take care!