Worldwide, osteoporosis causes almost 9 million fractures annually, this means that there is a fracture every three seconds as a result of the disease. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, the worldwide incidence of hip fracture in men is expected to increase by 310 percent and 240 in women compared to rates in 1990.
In the United States, osteoporosis and low bone mass are a major public health threat that affect almost 52 million men and women over the age of 50, representing 55 percent of people over that age. This number is expected to climb to more than 61 million by 2020.
Osteoporosis is a serious disease that can cause major bone fractures and even lead to death in some cases. Understanding the disease more and learning about preventative measures that can be taken as well as treatment options can be important to know about as we continue to age.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the bones become thin, weak, and brittle, so fragile that a mild fall or stress can cause a fracture. The disease is characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue. Bone tissue is a living thing that is constantly being broken down and replaced, however, when osteoporosis occurs the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone.
Most people reach their peak bone mass in their early 20s and as people age, bone mass is lost faster than it is created. This means that older individuals are more at risk for the problem.
The condition affects men and women of all races, but, according to the Mayo Clinic, it is especially prevalent in white and Asian women. Fracture risk may also increase, in part, due to hereditary reasons. People whose parents have a history of fractures sometimes have reduced bone mass.
There are normally no symptoms that occur in the early stages of bone loss. Osteoporosis is often referred to as a silent disease due to the lack of symptoms. However people may know to check for the disease if they are experiencing back pain or loss of height. Having a stoop of curvature in the spine is also a sign that osteoporosis may be present.
Other symptoms that may appear include:
- Receding gums
- Weakened grip strength
- Weak or brittle nails
Generally, osteoporosis occurs in the hip, wrist or spine.
After being diagnosed with osteoporosis you may feel concerned or frightened, but now that you have more information you can use it to significantly improve bone health with diet, exercise, and changes in lifestyle in an effort to prevent future fractures.
Because bone is a living tissue, like muscle, it will respond to exercise by becoming stronger. Weight-bearing exercises are the best for strengthening the bones, some examples of this include walking, hiking, climbing stairs, and weight training.
Increasing your calcium intake is one think you can do to maintain healthy and strong bones throughout your life. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are great sources of calcium. Broccoli, almonds, and more are non dairy sources of calcium. Calcium supplements can also be used to ensure that you are getting enough calcium each day. The Institute of Medicine recommends 1,200 milligrams of calcium for older individuals.
Protein provides many benefits for bone health including fracture healing. The National Institutes of Health says that studies have shown that elderly individuals with hip fracture who do not get enough protein are more likely to experience loss of independence or even death after their fracture. The recommended daily amount of protein is 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women.
Vitamin D is important for helping your body absorb calcium. Vitamin D allows calcium to enter your bloodstream. As we age, it decreases your body’s ability to absorb calcium which makes Vitamin D even more important. Foods that are high in Vitamin D include cheese, egg yolks, and salmon.
Quitting smoking is important as smokers absorb less calcium from their diets. Not only will it help prevent your chances of being diagnosed with low bone density or osteoporosis, it can help prevent a long list of other health risks including cancer and heart disease. Similarly, alcohol excessive alcohol intake increases the risk of bone loss and fractures.
There are a number of medications that can help someone who is dealing with osteoporosis. Bisphosphonates are the most common form of medication for osteoporosis. Some of these include:
- Alendronate (Fosamax)
- Risedronate (Actonel)
- Ibandronate (Boniva)
- Zoledronic Acid (Reclast)
There medications are directly injected into the vein as opposed to using pills that sometimes aren’t absorbed properly in the stomach. Taking bisphosphonates in a pill form can also lead to side effects like heartburn and nausea.
Osteoporosis are used to slow bone breakdown, they help maintain bone density and decrease the risk of breaking a bone as a result of the condition.
Hormone therapy is also another option for women during or after menopause that can help stop bone density loss. However, estrogen therapy can also increase the risk of blood clots, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that affects millions in the United States and can lead to a number of health risks including fractures and even death. While there are a few preventative measures that can be taken, as well as treatment options, it may be beneficial to look into assisted living facilities that can aid you or your loved one as age continues to influence the way they live. At Landmark Senior Living, out staff and facilities offer our residents what they need to live happy and healthy lifestyle as they open to the next chapter of their lives.