21 Things You Should Know about Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a chronic disease. Translation: there is no cure for it. Thankfully there are many things you can do you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis to manage its progress.

There is of course medication that you can take, most of them work on the estrogen levels, but you can also help yourself with exercise and diet changes.

Just knowing a few things can help lead you on a healthier path; some risk factors are well known, but others are not. Here are a few things you might want to be aware of:

1

    20 percent of people with osteoporosis are men. Bet you didn’t know that. There are many myths about osteoporosis and the one that says osteoporosis only happens to mature women, is false.

2 Osteoporosis is preventable. It is a common misunderstanding that osteoporosis is a part of growing old but it is not. Taking Calcium and Vitamin D supplements will help prevent the bones from becoming brittle and you can live happily to an old age without your limbs becoming more fragile. Although they are vitally important before you turn 20.

3

      Give your children and grand children food and treats that are rich in calcium and Vitamin D. Cows milk is a good source of calcium, but nuts, vegetables, seeds, most meat products, oranges and of course yogurt also have calcium in it.

Vitamin D however is only naturally available in liver, eggs ( in the yolk ) and in fish ( like salmon ), so unless you can convince your kids to eat it, your only other alternative are those dreadful fortified soft drinks for kids.

4 Salmon is the richest natural source of Vitamin D, a critical nutrient that helps prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin D helps the body process calcium and calcium helps keep the bones in your body strong.

5

    Osteoporosis can happen to anyone. It is not age specific and can happen to both men and women.

6 Drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. Teenage drinking is a particularly risky activity as they are still growing.

7

    A good diet choice for anyone worried about their bone health is to increase their consumption of leafy greens like kale or parsley, and increase how much fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds you eat. And aim to cut out salt altogether. There is generally more than enough salt in your food already.

8 Stop smoking. Or break your legs later. It’s your choice. If you are a smoker, then you could be so much happier, healthier and far less likely to develop osteoporosis or osteopenia if you simply stopped smoking. Just stop for today. Then decide when you wake up tomorrow if you want to stop for tomorrow as well.

9

    An over active thyroid gland (for instance if you have Grave’s disease) is an osteoporosis risk factor. But so is the female gender, being skinny, a family history and low estrogen levels. You can however make sure to have a good diet rich in vitamin D and calcium, and exercise more to reduce the effects of these other risk factors.

10 Walking, gardening or dancing are good aerobic exercises you can do to fight the effects of osteoporosis. If you don’t have osteoporosis already then any kind of exercise that the doctor thinks is okay for someone with your level of fitness is fine. Working on muscle strength is also very important to keep the bones and muscles in your spine and arms stronger. Make sure to warm up before exercising and to stretch after exercising.

11

      When you have osteoporosis or are at a higher risk of getting it, then

exercise

    is a great help to you, both in reducing the risk and in slowing down the decay of the bone density. However, it is vitally important that you stretch and warm up for your exercises, and also include some stretching and flexibility exercises during your routine as it helps against joint stiffness and improves mobility. Together, more mobility and more flexible joints means that you will be more able to resist falling over.

12 Avoid running, jogging, jumping, rowing machines, sit-ups or touch your toe exercises as well as exercises where you have to bend forward or twist your waist. The muscles in your arms and around your spine can only handle so much before these movements will put increased pressure on the very structures you are trying to protect. They can in fact put your osteoporosis treatment at risk.

13

    Osteoporosis means that you are more likely to fracture something if you fall. There is no truth in the myth however that you can only fracture a bone once. It can even break in the same place.

14 Osteoporosis is not a western or Caucasian only disease. Asian women are just as likely to get osteoporosis as Caucasians and Hispanic women get it too.

15

    There are many risk factors that play a part in developing osteoporosis. Not enough calcium in your diet is only one of them. You can however reduce the risk by carefully managing your diet to include calcium rich foods and vitamin D, as well as maintaining a healthy weight and doing daily exercises.

16. 30% of those suffering from a hip fracture will require some nursing home care or other long-term care following the fracture. Those who are elderly and suffer fractures that require bed rest can develop pneumonia or blood clots in the veins in their legs because of the bed rest. These blood clots can travel to the lungs causing further trauma.

17.

    20% of women who have suffered from a hip fracture will die in the year following the fracture from complications directly related to the fracture.

18. Those who suffer from eating disorders are at higher risk for osteoporosis.

19.

    The best time to prevent osteoporosis is during childhood and the teen years. This is when 98% of skeletal mass is built. This is why it is so important for kids and teens to have a well-balanced diet especially a diet that includes milk and other dairy products for calcium and to have ensured that they get plenty of vitamin D in either the food they eat like green leafy vegetables or they have a supplement that includes vitamin D.

20. Hormone medications can be a risk factor for this disorder. Steroid medications like those used for chronic inflammatory diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and even psoriasis can be supplemented with other medications that may help prevent bond loss if you have to be on these steroids. Other hormone therapies like those used to treat under active thyroid can cause bone loss. Also, diuretics are used when there is a buildup of fluids in the body. When taken over time these can cause bone loss as well.

21.

    Other miscellaneous risk factors are having a low intake of daily calcium, or having a sedentary lifestyle. Drinking an excessive amount of cola or coffee can interfere with the absorption of calcium and thus contribute to your risk factor. Certain other medical conditions can become a risk factor for osteoporosis. Conditions such as having a gastrectomy, hyperparathyroidism, anorexia nervosa and Cusings disease can also contribute to your risk of osteoporosis.

One way to slow the rate of bone loss is by weight-bearing exercise. Those individuals who live a sedentary lifestyle are at high risk for osteoporosis and will most likely have weaker bones than their athletic neighbors. Light weight lifting can stimulate bone production. Light aerobic exercise such as aerobics, jogging and the ever popular walking can help you to strengthen bones.

Getting the proper nutrition can also help to strengthen your bones. Calcium supplements may be recommended as well as making sure you get enough vitamin D (which by the way can be obtained from exposure to sunlight). Things that have caffeine in them like sodas and coffee will decrease calcium absorption and should be avoided.

Photo by ehecatzin- Creative Commons