Osteoporosis – Bone Breaking Disease
It is normal for the bones to erode as we age. But for some people, the bones become so fragile that they break down under the body’s own weight.
This causes hip, spine and forearm fractures. This disease is known as osteoporosis. This disease is more common among women then men.
This is due to the fact that the women have lighter bones and after menopause, they experience rapid bone loss due to decrease in estrogen. Also women opt for heavy dieting in order to lose weight, where they skip highly nutritious food items. This results in weaker bones in the body.
Men too can suffer from this disease if they smoke, drink or take steroids.
But there is no need to worry.
It is possible for you to slow, stop or reverse this bone loss.
Though women have used ERT or Estrogen Replacement Therapy to overcome this problem, you can follow the tips below to overcome or prevent this problem.
* Build up your bones: It is highly recommended that you do aerobic exercises for about 20 minutes a day at least three days a week.
Exercise has been shown to stimulate bones to lay down new tissues.
It is advisable to do the exercise that you can continue doing over long periods of time. Walking is the best form of exercise but you can also choose biking, swimming or aerobics.
* Walk in water: If you have suffered from fracture, walking in water is the best form of exercise. You can do this exercise three times a week for up to 30 minutes a day.
The water will support body weight and ease the stress off the bones and joints.
* Use a chair and the floor for exercise: Complement water walking by doing some muscle strengthening exercises like abdominal curls, shoulder blade squeezes and back extensions.
You can do these exercises on a chair or on the floor.
* Eat calcium: Doctors recommend that you get about 1000 milligrams of calcium a day, even though you have not yet reached menopause.
If you are not getting an ERT treatment, increase your calcium intake by another 200 to 500 milligrams a day.
This means that you can drink a quart of skim milk a day or have two cups of low-fat yogurt or four cups of low-fat cottage cheese to get 1000 milligrams.
You can take the remaining requirements from supplements.
* Go for maximum absorption: Spread out your calcium supplements throughout the day rather than take all at one go.
Food supplements should be taken with a meal.
Doctors recommend you to take calcium carbonate which is relatively inexpensive and is easily absorbed when taken in divided dosages at mealtimes.
* Increase your Vitamin D: Get the maximum protection by consuming 400 international units of Vitamin D each day, especially if you do not get enough sunlight.
Milk contains about 100 international units of Vitamin D, hence it is recommended that you take four cups a day.
But other dairy products like cheese, yogurt etc cannot be taken into account since they are not fortified with Vitamin D.
But do not exceed the recommended dosage of 400 international units since this vitamin is highly toxic in excess.
* Eat different types of food products: Bones do not contain calcium alone but contain an amalgam of boron, zinc and copper along with other minerals.
You can get these trace elements by eating variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and other unprocessed foods.
* Stop smoking: Smoking has been shown to accelerate bone loss.
It accelerates the rate at which the body metabolizes estrogen and thus canceling the benefits of ERT.
It has been shown to cause bone loss in men and postmenopausal women too.
* Control your medicines: Some drugs have been shown to hasten bone loss. The most common types of drugs are corticosteroids taken for variety of conditions like rheumatic, allergic and respiratory disorders, L-thyroxine a thyroid medicine and furosemide which is a diuretic used against fluid retention associated with high blood pressure and kidney problems.
* Avoid fizzy drinks: Cola and other carbonated soft drinks contain phosphoric acid, which contains phosphorus which is a mineral, when taken in excess, causes your body to excrete calcium.
* Ease salt intake: Excess intake of salt throws the calcium out of the body. Hence do not include salt more than necessary. Avoid processed and junk foods.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
According to the U.S. News & World Report Health Center, “Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break.
Literally meaning ‘porous bone,’ it results in an increased loss of bone mass and strength.
” Osteoporosis debilitates millions of people every year, but there is good news – prevention is possible!
The skeletal structure of the body provides support for our muscles and protection for our vital organs; our bones are also a storehouse of calcium and other minerals.
More than 99 percent of the body’s calcium is stored in our bones and teeth, the other 1 percent travels throughout our body in our blood.
Calcium is vital for heart and muscle function.
Our skeletons are made up of a smooth, tough outer layer of dense bone, a spongier mid section and a soft core of marrow where new cells are made to rebuild our bones.
Our bones are constantly changing because our bodies depend on a steady supply of calcium to function properly.
When we don’t get enough calcium from our regular diet our bodies break down and rebuild bone to meet our needs.
This is called “bone remodeling.”
External link: Osteoporosis symptoms
Many things can influence bone remodeling, like injury, illness, medications, exercise, diet, hormonal changes, smoking, heavy drinking and of course the normal aging process.
When the body requires more calcium than we are able to consume, or if we aren’t able to store the calcium we consume adequately it is leached from the spongy mid layer of our bones.
They gradually lose their density making them weak and porous, and more prone to fractures. This is osteoporosis.
Most of our bone mass is established before the age of 30, and after about age 35, as a part of the normal aging process, our bodies begin to breakdown our bone faster than we are able to rebuild it.
The natural decline in hormonal production is another contributing factor. When women reach menopause and their ovaries stop producing estrogen and bone loss accelerates.
In men a reduction in the hormone testosterone also encourages bone loss.
There is no cure for osteoporosis, so disease prevention is vital to maintaining bone density.
There are three key areas to consider when it comes to preventing osteoporosis: diet, lifestyle choices and medications.
To maintain strong healthy bones a diet sufficient in calcium and vitamin D are important from preadolescence and throughout adulthood.
Calcium needs become greater in older adults whose bodies can no longer rebuild bone mass.
Recent studies suggest that bone fractures can be reduced by 30-50% in individuals with low dietary calcium simply with the addition of a calcium and vitamin D supplement.
A few easy lifestyle changes can also influence our risk of getting osteoporosis.
Smoking, low body weight and a lack of exercise are all contributing factors to raising our susceptibility to the disease.
Weight-bearing exercises like walking, stair climbing, dancing and weight training help to increase bone density, keep muscles flexible and ensure better physical balance in people of all ages.
Exercise also helps to regulate body weight to a healthy level.
There is a direct link between tobacco use and lower bone density so smoking cessation is also recommended.
The use of medications can and does play an important role in the prevention of osteoporosis.
Calcium and vitamin D supplements as mentioned previously are often paired with bisphosphonates like Alendronate and Risedronate, selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) like Raloxifene, and hormonal replacements like Estrogen and Testosterone.
All medications have some side effects and these are best discussed with your doctor.
Though there is no known cure for osteoporosis there is hope and help in preventing this common and often debilitating disease of the elderly.
By starting now and working to prevent bone density loss you’ll have a stronger, healthier future.
Osteoporosis Symptoms A Sad Picture If Ignored
Osteoporosis occurs when there is a loss of density in the skeletal system leaving you more at risk for bone fractures.
An early symptom of osteoporosis often presents as bone fractures which do not match up to the described injury or ones which occur in the absence of any obvious injury.
Other patients may present with back pain which seems to have no clear explanation.
Back pain must be taken seriously and should be investigated clearly before being written off, especially if osteoporosis ends up to be the diagnosis.
It is a mistake you cannot afford.
Osteoporosis leads to the skeletal bones leaching calcium, collagen and even protein. With the loss of these minerals, the skeletal system bones become more porous, in extreme cases, often taking on the appearance of Swiss cheese.
It is this depletion that can lead to severe back pain and fractures.
Osteoporosis symptoms can appear without warning. Think about the back pain that just won’t end.
Many patients don’t even know that they have osteoporosis until they experience a break and then have an exam and x-ray. Sometimes the osteoporosis isn’t even diagnosed until after multiple fractures which puts you at risk for even higher morbidity.
Multiple fractures or even fractures without obvious injury should be considered suspicious and require further investigation.
Spinal fractures can lead to severe back pain which radiates from the back and around to the sides.
Many times compression fractures of the spine are quickly related to common osteoporosis symptoms.
These fractures can also lead to a loss of height and in severe cases can cause the hunched back appearance many associate with osteoporosis.
Many patients are initially diagnosed with osteoporosis during treatment for back pain.
Other patients may also be diagnosed with osteoporosis during a hospitalization for a hip fracture.
Often hip fractures occur from even a very simple a slip and fall. When the hip fracture doesn’t match the extent of the fall which occurred then this absolutely must be investigated for a break secondary to osteoporosis.
Hip fractures often heal very poorly due to the poor bone quality and the location of the fracture.
If you are experiencing symptoms of osteoporosis such as fractures without just cause or back pain that you simply cannot explain, then you must make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss the possibility of osteoporosis.
This diagnosis is not one that you can ignore.
The morbidity of this condition can be so life altering that you may never again recognize your life if osteoporosis gets a solid grip.
Osteoporosis And The Facts
Osteoporosis is called the silent thief because you do not experience any symptoms, the first time you know about it is when a bone snaps unexpectedly.
Osteoporosis means “porous bones” and it is a condition where the skeleton becomes very fragile and the bones break easily.
Simple things can cause a bone to break, such as stepping off a curb, sneezing, being hugged or even bending down to pick something up.
Breakages are mainly in the hips, spine and wrist and effects mainly women but men can have it as well.
Nowadays you can be tested to see what your bone mass is like and because of more knowledge you can delay the onset of osteoporosis with diet and exercise earlier in your life.
You might think that the skeleton does nothing else but holds you up but it is every bit as dynamic as other tissues, bone responds to the pull of muscles and gravity, repairs itself, and constantly renews itself.
The skeleton also protects the internal organs, as well as allowing you to move about.
After the age of 30, the bone starts to breakdown and outpaces formation. The volume of the bone remains the same, but it’s density declines.
Calcium intake is important to build bone but you also need vitamin D to help the body absorb the calcium.
Vitamin D is produced by the skin in sunlight or can be found in many foods, such as in milk products and many breakfast cereals.
It has also been found that Magnesium and Vitamin K can also assist in the reduction of bone loss.
Vitamin K can be found in greens, whereas Magnesium is found in small quantities in a variety of foods, so eating a varied, healthy diet should provide what you require.
A lifelong habit of weight-bearing exercise, such as walking or biking, will also help build and maintain strong bones.
The greatest benefit as you grow older is that physical fitness reduces the risk of fracture, because it gives you better balance, muscle strength, and agility, making falls less likely.
Exercise also provides many other life-enhancing psychological and cardiovascular benefits.
You don’t have to do too much, to get the most benefit from exercise.
It is suggested that 30 minutes brisk walking five days a week is all you need.
Add in a little weightlifting, and that’s even better.
The reason behind this recommendation is that the flexing of bones.
during exercise is thought to prompt the body to lay down more calcium in the bones.
It’s always smart to ask your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you already have osteoporosis or other health problems.>
It is important to ensure that when exercising the body has enough nutrients to build muscle otherwise minerals could be leeched from the bone making the bone more susceptible to osteoporosis.
It is therefore important that you do not exercise on an empty stomach.
Osteoporosis is a problem that can affect anyone in their later years and you should do all that you can to keep your bones strong.
Dealing With Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition which makes the bones weak and causing them to break easily.
As the bones are fragile the slightest movement can break them, especially joints like the hip, spine and wrists.
Increasing age makes you prone to this disease, men over fifty and post-menopausal women are the most common patients of osteoporosis.
This breakage of bone occurs within a couple years of menopause due to reduction in estrogen levels.
After years of erosion the bones give away causing pain, spinal deformity and fractures.
Some common factors
*: Women are more prone to osteoporosis than men.
*: Increasing age
*: Low estrogen and testosterone level in women and men respectively.
*: Thin and frail body structure or suffering from anorexia nervosa
*: Calcium and vitamin D deficiency
*: Lack of exercise
*: Smoking and drinking alcohol has adverse effects on the bone density.
*: Use of certain medication or drugs
Remedies for Osteoporosis
Eat a healthy diet which includes plenty of calcium and vitamin D. Exercise regularly and cut down on alcohol and cigarettes.
For good source of calcium have low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, orange juice, green leafy vegetable like spinach, cereals and breads.
A twenty minute walk three to four times a week may help you tremendously.
You can also go biking, swimming or join aerobic dancing classes to improve the bone condition.
Engage in weight-bearing exercises as these help in strengthening the bones. If you have a swimming pool or a beach around your house, go walking in chest deep water for 30 minutes at least three days a week.
This prevents stress on your bones hence there is less erosion.
A cup of milk has 100 international units of vitamin D.
Four cups a day could be your daily dose of vitamin D.
Studies have also shown that post-menopausal women can have supplements containing manganese (5 mg/day), copper (2.5 mg/day), and zinc (15 mg/day) in combination with a calcium supplement (1,000 mg/day). It is termed to be more effective than having the calcium supplement alone.
Consume less salt and avoid food products which have more than 300 milligrams of salt per serving.
Stay away from carbonated beverages like cola and soft drinks. The phosphoric acid present in carbonated drinks contains phosphorus, which if had in excess, can cause elimination of calcium from the body.
Studies have shown that vitamin K is very useful in maintaining healthy bones.
It is found in green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, lettuce and spinach.
You can also consume vitamin K supplements.
If you want to increase calcium content include Parmesan cheese in your diet.
To lessen fat intake and increase calcium, add powdered non-fat dry milk powder in soups, casseroles and other beverages.
Some of the food products that promote healthy bones are avocado, black pepper, cabbage, cod liver oil, Dandelion, garlic, onions, Parsley, Pig-weed and Horse tail. Eating pineapple also prevents bone fractures due to the presence of manganese in pineapple.
Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article.
Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it.
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