Osteoporosis: What is it?
Osteoporosis is a common disease that affects over a million Australians.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, by definition, is a disease that affects bones. Over time, our bones can become weakened and brittle, increasing the risk of breaks than in normal bones. Usually, the body constantly absorbs and replaces bone tissue but osteoporosis halts this normal processes of new bone replacing old. As a consequence, our bones can become so weak that a seemingly harmless fall can lead to fractures and breaks.
While this condition cannot be cured, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your risk.
Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, leading to a loss of bone thickness (bone density or mass).
A variety of things can contribute to the onset of Osteoporosis. Age seems to be the most prevalent, although other factors such as lifestyle choices can influence its development. Some medical conditions can also contribute to issues with osteoporosis.
If your body has begun to suffer from the effects of Osteoporosis, you may notice the following symptoms:
- Prolonged back pain, caused by fractured or collapsed vertebra
- A bone may fracture far more easily than they should
- As the condition worsens, your posture may become a little stooped
- You may even notice yourself getting shorter as vertebra start to buckle or collapse.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
The older you get, the greater your risk of Osteoporosis becomes as your bones age and deteriorate. Your risk also increases if you’re white or of Asian descent or your family has a history of Osteoporosis. If you have a slight physique and, therefore, less bone mass, you can also have a higher likelihood of succumbing to osteoporosis simply because you have less bone to absorb the deterioration.
Of course, these risk groups are no cause for alarm. Everyone is more susceptible to some conditions than others. If you fit into one of the at-risk groups, your chances of developing Osteoporosis can still be minimised with correct diet and exercise.
What other factors can influence Osteoporosis?
Anything from an ongoing diet low in calcium to eating disorders can increase osteoporosis risks.
A sedentary lifestyle doesn’t help either. And it will be no surprise to learn that excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can increase your risk as they tend to exacerbate most things.
Unfortunately, certain medications to treat gastric reflux, cancer, seizures, and transplant rejections have also been found to interfere with the bone-rebuilding process.
Ensure your diet is nutritious and packed with all the essentials for good healthy bones, particularly protein, calcium and Vitamin D.
Being underweight increases your risk of bone problems, as does being overweight. So maintain a diet that sits you squarely in the middle – not fat, not thin.
Exercise is critical, especially as we age. The advancing years often go hand in hand with an equal and opposite interest in a strenuous activity, and that’s when the real problems can start.
While we’re young, we need to keep up a regular and varied routine of fitness, be it through sports or just gym sessions – weights and cardio. As we get older, the nature of exercise may drop in intensity, but it mustn’t drop in frequency. Walking, swimming, riding an exercycle; they’re all great ways to keep our bodies and bones fit and healthy.