Osteoporosis is a serious problem among older adults, striking fully one-half of those over the age of 50. This disease, which causes thinning of the bones, can put people at greater risk for serious fracture that lead to pain, loss of mobility, loss of independence and sometimes even placement in an assisted living facility or a nursing home. There are ways to help avoid this however: getting plenty of calcium in your diet and continuing to be active with weight-bearing exercises are two the best ways to prevent this condition. It is also good to know what warning signs to be aware of so that you can talk to your doctor and get diagnosed before anything serious happens. 5 of the common warning signs are discussed below.
If you have had more than one fracture in the past several years, or if you had a fracture that seemed to be severe for the circumstances, this is a good sign that your bones may not be as strong as they need to be. If you have this warning sign, go in and talk to your doctor. He or she can schedule a bone density test which will give a definitive diagnosis and let you know if osteoporosis is the problem.
If you are a naturally slender or small-framed person, this also puts you at great risk for osteoporosis. If you have small bones, this means you do not have as much to lose from those bones before the problem can become serious. This means that a high-calcium diet and weight-bearing activity starting in your thirties is very important.
History of Corticosteroids
If you have a history of taking corticosteroids, you are also at a greater risk for osteoporosis. Long-term use of these steroids – the most common of which is prednisone – interferes with hormones levels and causes Vitamin D, calcium and other important minerals to leach out of your bones, leaving them vulnerable to a fracture.
History of Smoking
The truth is that the link between smoking and weakened bones is not clear – but there definitely is one. Smokers have a statistically higher risk for developing osteoporosis than non-smokers. So if you are still smoking but want to make the commitment to quit, talk to your doctor about a cessation program that will make this transition as easy as possible.
History of Alcohol Use
If you drink more than two alcoholic drinks a day, you are also at greater risk for this conditioner. Alcohol weakens bones by leaching out calcium, magnesium and other important minerals and the heavier you drink, the more that this weakening process will happen. Cut back on drinking or quit altogether to help minimize this risk.
Osteoporosis is a serious condition with serious consequences. However, the good news is that there are lifestyle changes you can make that will help reduce your risk of developing this disease. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and smoking/alcohol cessation can go a long way to keeping you fit and active and your bones healthy and strong.
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