Mary did not understand why her doctor was sending her for an x-ray. She had merely bumped into the counter, not fallen to the ground. She figured she probably pulled a muscle. She was surprised when the x-ray showed she had collapsed vertebrae in her spine.
How in the world could this have happened? The results of her bone density test revealed the answer:
Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” The disease causes low bone density and deterioration of bone tissue; leading to weakened, fragile bones. In this state, bones are at a greater risk of fracture and injury. The bones most severely at risk are the wrists, hips and spine. Osteoporosis affects both men and women. According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, “one out of every two women and one in four men age 50 and over will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.”
It is often referred to as the “silent disease” because there are rarely any symptoms with bone loss. Most people do not know they have it until they suffer from a fracture or collapsed vertebrae due to weakened bones. Some people do suffer from a loss of height and kyphosis, or a stooped back, due to vertebral fractures.
There are many different risk factors for osteoporosis:
- Family History
- Prolonged use of certain medications, such as steroids
- Malnutrition/Vitamin deficiency
- Advanced age
- A small, thin frame
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Menopause and hormone deficiency
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Osteopenia (low bone density)
The good news is that this disease is preventable and treatable.
- A healthy diet, rich in Calcium and Vitamin D. (Always check with a doctor to avoid drug interactions and confirm correct dosing when starting any new vitamin or mineral.)
- Exercise. This is an integral part of any osteoporosis prevention plan! In younger years, it can increase bone mass. In older years, it can prevent the loss of bone mass. Make sure it is a weight-bearing exercise, as this is the most beneficial for prevention.
- Quit smoking!
- Limit alcohol consumption. Even as little as 2 ounces per day can be damaging to the skeletal structure.
As with prevention, treatment focuses on:
- Proper diet.
- Therapeutic medication.
- Fall prevention. Make sure your loved one has an environment that is safe and uncluttered, inside and out.
For more information on Osteoporosis and specific tips on fall prevention, please visit the International Osteoporosis Foundation.
We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior that could benefit from our vast array of home care services in Houston, please call us at 832 379-4700 or email us. We accept most long term care insurance as payment and have a full time staff supervising more than 100 quality-trained home care personnel covering the Houston, Texas area.
- The Difference Between Osteopenia and Osteoporosis (waltershull.wordpress.com)
- Food for Osteoporosis (waltershull.wordpress.com)
- Bone Density Tests: A Clue to Your Future (webmd.com)