A common belief among today's young adult female population
is that brittle bones are a normal occurrence in
older women. However, this could not be further from the
truth. The brittle bones that are caused by osteoporosis
can affect women as young as 30.
Osteoporosis is a condition that reduces bone density
and weakens bones. As a result, fragile bones are more
likely to fracture.
Poor diet, lack of exercise, hypothyroidism,
smoking and excessive alcohol use can further
aggravate the condition.
"For women, bone density begins to decrease around the
age of 30 and drops off even more significantly after
menopause," says St. Vincent Charity Hospital RN, Debbie
Tolich. She adds that it is never too early to take measures
to protect your bones.
Simple Steps to Preventing Osteoporosis
The good news is that osteoporosis is preventable when
measures are taken at an early age. Our bodies build the
most bone during childhood and adolescence before peaking
in our 30s.
As individuals become older, bone density
loss occurs at a faster rate. By taking the following steps
today, individuals can reduce their risk for osteoporosis.
- Follow a healthy diet that includes adequate sources of
calcium and vitamin D for your age. If necessary, talk to
your doctor about supplements.
- To maintain strong bones, adults should have at least
30 minutes of weight-bearing exercises daily. Children
should exercise for at least one hour each day.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption.
- Know and discuss your risk factors with your doctor.
Follow any recommendations on medication use, BMD
testing and physical activities.
- If you are older, take steps to reduce your risk of
falling, such as having regular vision screenings. In your
home, improve the lighting and remove any objects that
could cause you to trip.
"Osteoporosis poses an enormous health threat because
it is a silent disease that does not produce any visible symptoms,"
says Tolich. "Often, a fracture caused by a fall or
bump is the first sign that an individual has osteoporosis."
More than 10 million Americans currently suffer from
osteoporosis, and an additional 34 million individuals are at
risk for developing the disease. By 2020, at least half of all
Americans age 50 and older are expected to be at risk for
bone fractures caused by osteoporosis.
"Less than 30 per-cent
of individuals who have the disease are actually diagnosed,
and the percentage of those who seek treatment is even smaller," Tolich notes.
At St. Vincent Charity Hospital, staff members help
patients in assessing their risks for osteoporosis and in taking
"All patients who come to the
hospital with a fracture are screened for osteoporosis and
educated on measures they can take to improve bone
health," says Tolich.
When discussing your risks, some doctors may recommend
a DEXA scan to measure bone density and to detect
osteoporosis before it occurs. This painless diagnostic procedure
is similar to an X-ray, takes only about 15 minutes
and is covered by insurance.
"Since osteoporosis silently damages bone, knowing your
risk factors and undergoing bone mass density testing are
the best ways to find bone loss problems before you break
a bone," says Tolich.
St. Vincent Charity Hospital is here to help you protect
your bone health. The St. Vincent Charity Hospital
Osteoporosis Care Team consists of doctors, nurses, dietitians,
physical therapists and pharmacists dedicated to
promoting good bone health.
For more information on
osteoporosis and prevention, contact St. Vincent Charity
Hospital's osteoporosis nurses at 216.363.3353.
Reprinted with permission from St. Vincent Charity Hospital For more information, call 216.363.2676.
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