Thursday, 18 October 2012

Osteoporosis, a major pain in the... bones!

How much do you know about Osteoporosis? That it's an old ladies disease? That it can only affect people with rusty old creaky joints?

What if I told you that Osteoporosis can affect women as young as 25. Or that around 40% of women will suffer from an Osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime?

And men! Don't think that you're safe from this horrible disease either. Thirteen per cent of men will suffer from a fracture because of this disease in their lifetime. And it gets worst with age, half of women and a third of men over the age of 60 WILL have osteoporosis. Furthermore, 20% of people who have an osteoporosis related hip fracture die from their injury and a third of those who survive are permanently hospitalised.

The worst thing about this disease is that there is NO CURE and that it can strike SUDDENLY without warning. Often the first symptom of Osteoporosis is a bone fracture, by then it is already too late. This is because Osteoporosis is a disease that causes your bones to gradually lose their bone density over time. Your bones have already been considerably weakened once you have suffered a fracture. This is why, especially in the case of Osteoporosis, prevention is better than cure.

Things such as keeping to a good diet and getting regular exercise can help to reduce your chances of developing Osteoporosis. In terms of diet, you should get enough calcium and vitamin D into your system. Everyone knows that foods such as cheese and milk are great sources of calcium. But how about vitamin D? Many of us simply do not get enough vitamin D because of our sedentary lifestyles. Our body naturally creates its supply of vitamin D through the absorption of sunlight by the skin. But modern living means that we simply do not spend enough time outdoors for our body to absorb enough sunlight to create adequate levels of vitamin D. An alternative to this is to take supplements to boost calcium and vitamin D levels in our body.

Which sag-ways us to the second tip, GET MORE EXERCISE! Being more active increases the strain on our bones that encourages them to stiffen and become stronger. And if you are more active, chances are, you are getting enough sunlight to produce more vitamin D!

So eat the right foods, or take quality supplements, exercise lots and try to spend at least 30 minutes each day in the sunlight (consider using a sunscreen though!). If you know someone who suffers from Osteoporosis please try to be understanding and keep them safe by reducing their risk of falling and injuring themselves!

If you are worried about developing Osteoporosis, you can take the FRAX, or Fracture Risk Assessment Tool, test (link below) to calculate your risk of developing osteoporosis in a ten year period.

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