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All you need to know about osteoporosis

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osteoporosis

Osteoporosis can lead to weak and brittle bones. The bones may become so brittle that even a fall or bending or coughing can invite a fracture in the hip, wrist or spine.

Are you aware? Osteoporosis is a silent disease – Half of all postmenopausal women and a quarter of men over 50 years old will have an osteoporosis-related fracture. It can be easily detected by a bone density scan and treatments available to make your bones strong. Do not ignore osteoporosis especially if you are above 60 years of age or have other conditions that can cause weak bones.

How can one prevent fractures?

Osteoporosis is called the “silent disease” because bones become weak with no symptoms. You may not know that you have it until a strain or fall causes a bone to break. Falls are especially dangerous for people with osteoporosis. If you break a bone, you might need a long time to recover.

Is it prudent to take OTC medications for the prevention of bone loss?

It is important to include calcium and vitamin D in your diet as it is important to keep bones healthy. However, the requirement for calcium daily increases with age or in some cases when you have other medical illnesses and hence cannot be completely relied on dietary sources. In such cases it is important to take supplements of calcium and vitamin D. Don’t self-medicate but see your doctor and discuss your requirements and suitability of the same. The doses, duration, and suitability will be determined by your specialist.

Can medicines taken for other illnesses cause bone loss?

Yes, certain medications especially steroids are taken some medical conditions -for more than 3 months increase the risk of thinning your bones, also other medical illnesses like thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases and celiac diseases increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Treatment

If osteoporosis is established and the risk of fracture is high, various treatments are available to be taken along with calcium supplements to treat osteoporosis. The treating doctor will determine which is the most effective and suitable treatment for you.

Include adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D in your diet.

During the growing years, your body needs calcium to build strong bones and to create a supply of calcium reserves. Building bone mass when you are young is a good investment for your future. Inadequate calcium during growth can contribute to the development of osteoporosis later in life. However, whatever your age or health status, you need calcium to keep your bones healthy. Calcium continues to be an essential nutrient after growth because the body loses calcium every day. Although calcium can’t prevent gradual bone loss after menopause, it continues to play an essential role in maintaining skeletal health. Even if you’ve gone through menopause or you have osteoporosis, increasing your intake of calcium and vitamin D can lower your risk of fracture.

Exercise regularly

Like muscles, bones need exercise to stay strong. Doctors believe that a program of moderate, regular exercise (three to four times a week) is effective for the prevention and management of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, hiking, climbing stairs, dancing, treadmill exercises, and weight lifting are probably best.

(Disclaimer: The writer is Dr Dipti Patel, Rheumatologist Consultant, Wockhardt Hospital Mumbai Central. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)

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