There is a health scepter on the rise, the disease called osteoporosis.
The above statement is the warning by doctors as they notice the rise of the bone-cracking illness. About 54 million Americans are estimated to have osteoporosis and low bone mass. The figure means that low bone density is present in the majority of the total US adult population.
What makes osteoporosis so alarming is its deceptive nature. Its occurrence is usually not noticed even by the one who has it until they realize one of their bones crack. Worse, some don’t even feel any noticeable pain, making medical writers tag low bone mass as a “silent disease.”
Osteoporosis and low bone mass are mainly matters associated with aging. By the time Americans reach age 50, one in two women are expected to have an osteoporosis-related fracture. Doctors usually tell the plunging production of estrogen in their body is to be blamed. Estrogen is the hormone responsible for the maintenance of bone strength and rebuilding of new bones in women. During pre-menopause years, women’s estrogen level start to drop until it reaches its lowest during menopause.
It is also a man thing
While osteoporosis is commonly associated with women, it also affects men. Statistics shows that one in four men aged 50 will have fractured bones due to osteoporosis. Men are usually underdiagnosed for this disease because of the prevailing notion that osteoporosis is just for women and because of their greater bone mass.
Bone doctors say the plunging levels of testosterone in aging men causes the decrease in bone mass. Testosterone is in charge of bulking up bone density and instructs the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. Having a “Low T” makes men prone to bone fractures.
Due to the stealthy nature of osteoporosis, the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NFO) recommends women aged 65 years or older, as well as men 70 years or older, to undergo bone density test. Younger people might need to undergo bone testing if they are at high risk of developing osteoporosis. Doctors also advise their patients to have their bones tested if they feel intense back pain. Physicians also recommend a bone test to those who lost about half an inch or more in height within a year or 1 1/2 inches in total from their original height.
Even though osteoporosis is a disease of those with advanced age, younger people can prevent it from ruining their lives in the future. Here are some tips to build healthier bones:
- Use your bones more. Along with muscles, your bones strengthen with exercise. NFO identifies bone-strengthening exercises into two—weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening. Weight-bearing exercises move your body against gravity while staying in an upright posture. Dancing, running, aerobics, and stair-climbing are some of its examples. On the other hand, muscle-strengthening exercises make use of your body or a thing for some resistance against gravity. Examples of this are lifting weights or your body as well as the use of elastic bands. But doctors give extra caution to patients aged 40 and above as their fitness regimen may injure their already frail bones. Doctors must supervise the exercise regimen of people in this age group.
- Cut down salt. Research reveals that regular table salt causes calcium loss. While our body also needs sodium, most Americans take in twice the recommended amount of sodium in our diet.
- Drink less cola-based soda and caffeine. A study discovered that women who drink three or more servings of cola-based sodas a day had about 4% lower bone mineral density in the hip despite controlled calcium and vitamin D intake. Meanwhile, the urine promoting the effect of caffeine leads to the water and calcium loss. Daily caffeine intake of two or more cups already has a significant effect on bone mass density loss.
- Take calcium and Vitamin D supplements. Supplements are required to fill in the decreasing level of calcium and Vitamin D. These nutrients work hand in hand to retain the health of your bones. The body needs an adequate supply of these even before the drop of estrogen in women and testosterone in men start. Building a healthy skeletal system during youth is much like building a strong foundation during the construction of a building.
- Limit alcohol and quit tobacco. Alcohol and tobacco are among the usual culprits that endanger our health. Too much alcohol disrupts the body’s ability to take in calcium while tobacco jacks up the rate of bone loss. Avoid these drugs if possible for your bones’ benefit.
People aged 45 and above have special needs such as hormone imbalance to combat the onset of osteoporosis. For women approaching or in the menopause stage, and for men suffering from low testosterone, treatments such as natural hormone replacement therapy might be advised by doctors.
Osteoporosis has become a major health concern. Doctors are raising awareness of this silent disease that, if left untreated, could break your bones and induce injuries.
Tony Miller is a freelance writer who loves health, diet and fitness. He writes for Genemedics Health Institute, a contributor for wellness-central.blogspot.com, and an author of Ezinearticles.com.