Wednesday, October 13, 2010


What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis mean 'Porous Bone'.

This happens when your bone loses too much calcium and become weak. This is very hard to detect and is usually discovered only after a fracture occurs, or if person shows reduced height or a humping of the back, or suffers low back pain.

A person with osteoporosis has bones that are brittle and fragile. These fragile bones can break very easily with a simple slip or fall, or even with no injury at all.

Both men and women can suffer from osteoporosis, but it is most common in women after menopause (when the monthly period ends).

How common is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a common problem in India.

• 1 out of 8 males and l out of 3 females in India suffers from osteoporosis, making India one of the largest affected countries in the world.

• Expert groups peg the number of osteoporosis patients at approximately 26 million (2003 figures) with the numbers projected to increase to 36 million by 2013.

• Two points worth noting about osteoporosis in India - the high incidence among men and the lower age of peak incidence compared to Western countries.

• The incidence of hip fracture is 1 woman to 1 man in India.

• In most Western countries, while the peak incidence of osteoporosis occurs at about 70-86 years of age, in India it may afflict those 10-20 years younger, at age 50-60.

What causes Osteoporosis?

The bone is a living tissue. When we are young, any loss of bone is easily replaced. At around the age of 30, our bones are at their strongest. However, as we age, less bone is made and more bone is lost. After menopause your body's supply of estrogen decreases and the rate of bone loss increases even further. This is why postmenopausal women are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis. There are also many other factors that contribute to bone loss such as illnesses, medications and lifestyle choices.
Signs & Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Sometimes nothing happens. Osteoporosis can be a silent disease. This is where the danger lies. Most people do not know they have osteoporosis until it is too late. Their bones become so fragile that even the smallest amount of stress can cause a break or fracture.

The bones in your hip, wrist and spine are at greatest risk of breaking. If the bones in your upper back are fractured, your spine may curve to form a hump.

Osteoporosis may result in chronic pain, decrease your mobility and affect your quality of life. In severe cases, hip fractures due to osteoporosis may lead to death.

How much risk are you at?

All men and women could be at risk. Some are at a higher risk than others. The risk factors include:

• A previous non-violent fracture.

• Early menopause before age 45 years, whether natural or through surgery.

• A member of your immediate family who. Has osteoporosis.

• Being underweight or undernourished.

• Being frail due to long-term illness.

• Smoking.

• Drinking too much alcohol.

• Not exercising much or not being able to move for a long period of time.

• A diet that does not have enough calcium or vitamin D.

• Certain illnesses e.q rheumatoid arthritis.

• Certain medicines e.g. corticosteroids, thyroid medication.

Check if you have Osteoporosis?

The OSTA test helps you to find out if you are likely to get osteoporosis, but how do you know if you already have it? Osteoporosis does not usually show any symptoms or signs until the bones are so weak that a fracture occurs .

Osteoporosis can be easily detected through a painless procedure called dual- energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). This test measures the density or solid ness of the bones, known as the bone mineral density or BMD.
In general, the lower your BMD, the higher your risk of fracture. Your doctor can then advise you on what needs to be done.
BMD testing is especially important for people who have a number of risk factors for osteoporosis. Your family doctor will be able to arrange for this test to be done.

Can Osteoporosis be treated or prevented?

Yes, osteoporosis can be treated. There are medicines available that help strengthen bones and reduce the incidences of fractures.

However, the best way to deal with osteoporosis is to prevent it from happening in the first place. There are many things you can do to lower your chances of developing osteoporosis.

• If you have a number of risk factors and are quite likely to develop osteoporosis in the future, your doctor can prescribe medicines that will help prevent osteoporosis from developing.

How can Diet help?
• To build and keep bones strong, the food you eat must contain enough calcium and vitamin D.
• Calcium is found in dairy products such as milk and cheese which is lacking in the Indian diet.
• However, calcium alone. May not be enough to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis after menopause.

Minimum total daily calcium and vitamin D intake

Category Calcium Vitamin D

Male 11 – 18 years old 1,000 mg 4001U
Female 11 – 18 years old 800mg 4001U
All adults 19 – 65 years old 700mg 4001U
All adults above 65 years 700mg 8001U
Lactation1, 200mg 4001U

Prevention of Osteoporosis through active lifestyle

• Regular weight-bearing exercises are important throughout life. They are the best way to keep your bones strong and healthy.

• Exercises that increase muscle strength, improve flexibility and balance, build up endurance and co-ordination, will help prevent falls.

• Everyone should try to exercise regularly at least 3 times a week for 30-40 minutes each time. Some recommended exercises are brisk walking, low impact aerobics and tai chi.

• Always remember to do proper warming up and cooling down exercises before and after each exercise session.

Smoking &Alcohol.

• Do not smoke. Smoking causes many other diseases besides increasing your risk of osteoporosis.

• It is fine to drink some alcohol, but if you drink too much you may have a higher risk of osteoporosis.

Take care of your steps

We should take steps to reduce the occurrence of falls which may lead to bone injuries.

This is very important for elderly people who are likely to have weakened bones. Start with these steps:

• Always anchor rugs and carpets.

• All rooms should be well-lit.

• Hide all electrical and telephone cords to avoid tripping over them.

• A flashlight by your bed is helpful at night.

• Reduce spacing & check Alignment

Do check the batteries often.

• Stairways should have railings and non - slip surfaces.

• Grab bars and other aids, such as nightlights, are especially helpful in bathrooms.

• Use non-slip mats or adhesive strips in your tub or on your shower floor.

• Make sure chairs and couches are easy to get in and out of.

• For more advice, consult an occupational therapist.

Although exercise, calcium and vitamin D are important, they cannot totally stop bone loss after menopause.

Need to know

You can check your risk for osteoporosis with OSTA.

If you think you are at risk of developing osteoporosis, or if you think you may already have it, see your family doctor as soon as possible.

He or she can arrange for BMD testing, and give advice and medicines if needed.

Prevention is best - stop osteoporosis before it happens. There are effective medicines to treat osteoporosis.

If you are already taking medicines to treat osteoporosis but have questions or concerns about them, your doctor is the best person to talk to.

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