Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones weaken due to the loss of bone tissue and low bone mass until they are deteriorated or eventually become friable and brittle. The living tissue of the bone is continuously broken-down and restored. Osteoporosis occurs when the replacement of old bone with the new one fails. This condition is referred to as a ‘silent disease’ and as a result the body is unable to feel the weakening of bones. Bones become so weak that a simple fall or the slightest stress, such as coughing or twisting, can cause a fracture. Most fractures due to osteoporosis are in the spine, wrist, or hip.
Osteoporosis occurs when the intake of calcium and vitamin D in our body is less than the desired level. Osteoporosis causes the bones to become thinner, thus causing a fracture. It can be due to medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis, multiple myeloma or may be caused by estrogen or other hormonal imbalances due to smoking or excessive unprescribed medications such as cortisone, hydrocortisone, and prednisolone and so on.
Typically, symptoms cannot be detected in early stages, but when the bones are weakened then the body may present with symptoms such as back pain or a stooped posture.
Fractures of the spine (vertebra) give rise to severe ‘band-like’ pain that spreads from the back to the sides of the body. Repeated spinal fractures lead to chronic lower backache together with bending of the spine due to disruption of the vertebrae. This collapse gives rise to hunched-back appearance of the upper back, often called as "dowager hump" that is usually common in older women.
Women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis especially when they grow older. Women are on high risk due to:
• Low calcium and vitamin D intake
• Lack of exercise
• Cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
• Amenorrhea — loss of the menstrual period
• In conditions such as Hyperthyroidism and Hyperparathyroidism
The aim of treatment is reducing bone loss to prevent bone fractures or, preferably, by increasing bone strength and density. Although if the treatment starts after an early detection, it can significantly decrease the risk of future fractures. It is not possible to absolutely rebuild bone that has been deteriorated by osteoporosis, so, prevention is better than cure. The following are osteoporosis treatment measures for optimal health of the bone:
• Medications that halt bone loss and increase bone strength
• Medications that increase bone formation
Healthy Diet for Preventing Osteoporosis
Lack of calcium in the body may lead to the development of osteoporosis. Research has shown that low calcium intake is linked with high fracture rates because of rapid bone loss or low bone mass.
Requirement of calcium in everybody is different. The need of calcium in body is high during childhood and adolescence because of the rapid development of skeleton. Pregnant women and those breast-feeding also need a lot of calcium, as do postmenopausal women.
Foods that are good sources of calcium include:
• Low-fat dairy products, such as ice cream, milk, cheese, and yogurt
• Dark green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, collard greens, and spinach
• Sardines and salmon with bones
• Calcium-fortified foods, such as soy milk, orange juice, breads and cereals
If the individual’s intake of calcium in food is less, then the person may need supplements.
Vitamin D is necessary in our body as it absorbs calcium from both food and supplements. It helps in mobility of muscles, as nerves need vitamin D to transfer messages from our body to brain. Vitamin D is also needed to fight against bacteria and viruses.
Vitamin D is present in the following food sources:
• Egg yolks
• Saltwater fish
The amount of vitamin D in a person varies depending on the age in women, whether pregnant or breast-feeding. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends these average daily amounts in international units (IU):
• Birth to 12 months: 400 IU
• Children 1-13 years: 600 IU
• Teens 14-18 years: 600 IU
• Adults 19-70 years: 600 IU
• Adults 71 years and older: 800 IU
• Pregnant and breast-feeding women: 600 IU
After diagnosis of osteoporosis, weight lifting exercises are important for maintaining bone health, but care is obligatory to avoid compression fractures of the spine, and other fractures in the body.
Preventing Fractures by Preventing Falls
If a person is diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is important to avoid falls that can lead to broken bones.
• Use a cane or walker for a stable walk.
• Wear rubber soled shoes to help grip the floor.
• If footpaths are slippery walk on grass.
• Walk gently on polished or wet floors.
• When using plastic or carpet runners to avoid slippery floor, purchase those with skid proof support or clip them to the floor.
• Installation of enough lights in homes.
• Keep a torch next to bed.
• Install handrails and grab bars in bathroom.
• Use of rubber bath mat in shower and bathtub.
• Don't walk in socks or stockings and wear low-heel shoes.HH
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