When you think of chronic conditions, you may think of diabetes or high blood pressure and cholesterol. Others you may not think about as much, like lupus, muscular dystrophy, or osteoporosis. However, with over 54 million Americans living with low bone mass, osteoporosis is more common than you may realize.
Brickmont Assisted Living proudly services the Atlanta, Georgia area, and is sharing some information on the causes and risk factors associated with osteoporosis, as well as some tips on osteoporosis prevention.
What is Osteoporosis?
Meaning “porous bone,” osteoporosis occurs when the body doesn’t make enough bone or loses too much bone. The result is weak, brittle bones. Osteoporosis can be dangerous because, with this condition, minor injuries—such as a bump or trip—can result in severe breaks or fractures.
Osteoporosis is also severe in the sense that there are typically no symptoms—sometimes the first indication isn’t until after you’ve broken a bone. Occasionally, people with osteoporosis may notice that they’ve gotten shorter over time or their clothes don’t fit right, but there are usually no noticeable signs.
Risk Factors of Osteoporosis
Some people are more at risk for osteoporosis than others. It is most common in older women; one in two women and one in six men over 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture at some point in their lives.
While some of the risk factors of osteoporosis are beyond our control, others are lifestyle factors that can be altered to prevent osteoporosis and low bone density.
Significant Risk Factors for Osteoporosis That Cannot Be Changed:
- Your Sex: Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.
- Advancing Age: The risk for low bone density increases with age.
- Race: Osteoporosis is more prevalent in people of European or Asian descent.
- Family History: Those with parents who have broken hips in the past are at higher risk.
- Bone Structure: Both men and women with small body frames have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis as they get older.
Significant Risk Factors for Osteoporosis That Can Be Changed:
- Low Calcium Intake: As children, we were told that calcium helps build strong bones. Not consuming enough calcium throughout your life can contribute to a lower bone density as you get older.
- Inactive Lifestyle: Being sedentary does little to build and strengthen the bones, so those who live an inactive lifestyle are more at risk for osteoporosis.
- Excessive Alcohol or Tobacco Use: Heavy alcohol use can not only decrease bone formation but increase the risk of falling and breaking or fracturing a bone.
- Other Factors: Certain medications, pre-existing conditions, and surgeries may also increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Tips for Osteoporosis Prevention
As with any chronic condition or illness, there’s no way to prevent it entirely, but if your lifestyle puts you at high risk, simple changes may be able to help.
Here are some lifestyle changes that may aid in osteoporosis prevention:
- Consume More Calcium: Increasing your calcium intake can help increase bone mass. Good calcium sources include dairy products such as milk and cheese, dark, leafy greens, and soy products such as tofu.
- Increase Your Exercise Level: Being more active can help prevent osteoporosis. Weight-bearing activities, such as running, tennis, or yoga, are especially beneficial in promoting strong and healthy bones.
- Consider Scans for Early Detection: If you are at high risk for osteoporosis, especially if you have a family history, consider asking your doctor about a bone density scan. This test can aid in the early detection of fragile and porous bone, leading to earlier treatment.
- Decrease Your Risk of Falls. If you are at higher risk for osteoporosis, implement strategies to decrease your risk of falling, such as installing grab bars in bathrooms or other areas where added support can be beneficial. This can ensure that you prevent any severe breaks or fractures.
Osteoporosis is not 100% preventable, but with an understanding, a healthy, balanced diet, regular exercise, and early detection, you can significantly reduce your risk.
Brickmont Assisted Living, with assisted living communities throughout the Atlanta, Georgia, area, aims to be a valuable resource for older adults and their families. For more information on senior health and wellness, senior living, and Brickmont communities, we invite you to visit our resources page.