'Be Healthy, Stay Healthy' Issue 9: Boning Up on Bone Health
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Zeidy remains a spry senior well into old age, enjoying the eineklach and slower lifestyle well past his biological golden years. For many families, the break between crusty vibrancy and a life of doctor appointments and pills is a fall.
Bones that once withstood a kinetic clash with the hardest rocks and survived dozens of scrapes and bruises now cannot endure soft contact with the ground.
Welcome to the grim world of osteoporosis, a disease that can easily be prevented with some foresight in the younger years.
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes weak bones. People with the disease can break their bones too easily, for example breaking a hip after falling down at home.
These fractures can be serious, especially if the bone is in the hip. People who break a hip sometimes lose the ability to walk on their own and may require a long recovery.
Osteoporosis is a silent sickness in that it creeps up suddenly on the person. There are no symptoms until there is a fracture. However, doctors can evaluate bone strength or density using a "DXA test." If the test shows lower than expected bone density, doctors may choose to treat this with additional calcium and vitamin D.
DXA is a special kind of X-ray that gives off very little radiation and gives reliable measures of bone density in different parts of the body, such as the spine, hip, and wrist.
Who should get tested for osteoporosis?
As people age, their bones weaken. Women age 65 and older should have bone density testing at least once. The exam might also be appropriate for some men who are older than 70. Doctors will also sometimes check bone density in younger individuals who may be on medication or have underlying medical conditions which have an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Things that increase your risk of breaking a bone include:
●Having already broken a bone as an adult
●Taking medicines called steroids for a long time
●Weighing less than 127 pounds
●Having rheumatoid arthritis
●Having a parent who broke a hip after a minor injury
Oftentimes, people learn that they have osteoporosis for the first time when they break a bone during a fall or a mild impact. This is called a "fragility fracture," because people with healthy bones should not break a bone that easily.
While there are treatment options for osteoporosis, remember that the best treatment is prevention.
To keep your bones healthy you can:
●Eat foods with a lot of calcium, such as milk, yogurt, and green leafy vegetables
●Eat foods with a lot of vitamin D, such as milk fortified with vitamin, and fish from the ocean
●Take calcium and vitamin D pills
●Be active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week
●Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to 1 to 2 drinks a day
In addition, you can increase the safety of your home by:
●Make sure all your rugs have a no-slip backing to keep them in place
●Tuck away any electrical cords, so they are not in your way
●Light all walkways well
●Watch out for slippery floors
●Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes with rubber soles