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Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the bones resulting in weak bones that can break easily from a minor fall or even from bumping into something. The term osteoporosis actually translates to “porous bone.” Osteoporosis is a common disease, affecting more than fifty million people in America alone. The disease tends to affect women in greater numbers and studies suggest that approximately one in two women and up to one in four men over the age of fifty will experience a bone break due to osteoporosis.
When you look at a healthy bone under a microscope, it looks a bit like a honeycomb with tiny holes. In someone with osteoporosis, those holes and spaces are much larger than in someone with healthy bones. This means that the bones have less mass and density, making them weaker and more likely to break.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
There are a variety of uncontrollable and controllable factors that can put you at risk of developing osteoporosis. Some of the uncontrollable risk factors include being over the age of fifty, being female, having a family history of osteoporosis, or having a low body weight. Risk factors that can be controlled include not getting enough vitamin D and calcium, having an inactive lifestyle, drinking too much alcohol, not eating enough fruits and vegetables, and consuming too much sodium, protein, and caffeine. Smoking and losing a large amount of weight can also increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. While some risk factors cannot be controlled those than can be controlled should be taken seriously. With the help of your healthcare provider, you can create a plan to keep your bones healthy.
Broken bones caused by osteoporosis are not a normal part of aging and there are lots of things that can be done to improve bone health. To keep your bones healthy, you should eat a well balanced diet that includes vitamin D and calcium. It is also important to maintain an active lifestyle and exercise regularly. As part of a healthy diet, foods such as fruits and vegetables that are good for bones should be consumed. You should also avoid smoking and limit the amount of alcohol your consume. It is never too late to take steps to prevent osteoporosis and improve bone health.
How Osteoporosis is Diagnosed
A doctor may have to take several steps to diagnose osteoporosis and be able to estimate your risk of breaking a bone. These steps could include taking a medical history, and performing a physical examination. A bone density test may also be administered in addition to other laboratory tests. While not used to diagnose osteoporosis, bone scans, x-rays, and vertebral fracture assessments can be used to obtain information about bone health. Some people are diagnosed with low bone density but not osteoporosis. Low bone density is when your bone density is considered lower than normal but not low enough to be diagnosed with osteoporosis. Having low bone density can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a serious disease that can lead to many complications especially in elderly sufferers. It is often referred to as a silent disease because you can’t feel your bones getting weaker and the first sign may actually be a broken bone. It is important to regularly see a doctor to help prevent and diagnosis any health issues that arise.
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