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All About the ‘Silent Disease’- Osteoporosis

person grabbing their knees due to osteoporosis

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that affects more than half the population in the U.S. at some point in their lives. It causes bones to become weak and increases the risk of fractures. It is often called the silent disease because people usually have no symptoms, and may not know they have osteoporosis until an injury or fall cause a broken bone.

What are the risk factors for osteoporosis?

  • Both men and women can have osteoporosis, but some factors put you at higher risk
    • Gender-it’s more common in women
    • Age-the older you are, the higher your risk
    • Body size-small, thin women are at greater risk
    • Ethnicity-white and Asian women are at highest risk
    • Family history-osteoporosis tends to run in families

How to decrease the risk of osteoporosis

  • Healthy lifestyles can help decrease your risk
    • Eat a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D-low fat milk, yogurt and cheese as well as foods with added calcium – orange juice, cereals and breads are all good sources. Ask your doctor if a Vitamin D or calcium supplement is right for you.
    • Exercises such as walking, hiking, dancing and lifting weights can all help increase bone strength.
    • Don’t drink alcohol in excess
    • Don’t smoke, or take steps to quit

To help minimize the effects of falls or fractures, your doctor may recommend a bone mineral density test, or medications to help protect your bone strength. A bone density test is recommended for most women age 65 or older, or younger for those at risk or those who have had a recent fracture.

  • It is also important to take steps to prevent falls
    • Keep rooms free of clutter, and avoid using throw rugs
    • Wear low healed, non-slip shoes
    • Install grab bars near showers, tubs and toilets
    • Add more lights in rooms

For more information please see the following resources.

Keeping Your Bones Strong web presentation

The National Institute of Health’s website

SilverSneakers-Osteoporosis and Exercise

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