Medical Matters: Osteoporosis – Are You at Risk?

As seen in the Odessa American “Medical Matters”: 

Osteoporosis – Are You at Risk?
by Dr. James Ingram

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones that many people will experience in their lifetime as it is the most common bone disease in humans. Osteoporosis is a silent disease until it is complicated by a broken bone.

Osteoporosis means porous bone (full of holes). When a person has osteoporosis, the pores become larger which makes the bones brittle and weak. Because the bones are then weak and brittle, they can fracture easily … even with simple activities like sneezing or bumping into furniture.

Osteoporosis is diagnosed by a medical evaluation that includes an examination of your height and a bone density test. This bone density test is the only way to diagnose osteoporosis prior to a broken bone. The most common bone breaks are of the spine, hip and wrist.

It is estimated more than 10 million Americans have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is not just a disease that affects women. After the age of 50, more than 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

All women who have experienced menopause and men over the age of 50 should be evaluated for osteoporosis risk factors to determine if they need to be tested.

There are many factors that put us at risk for developing osteoporosis. Some factors are modifiable while other factors are not.

Factors leading to Osteoporosis that cannot be altered include:

  • Age greater than 50
  • Caucasian and Asian women
  • Petite women
  • Family history of osteoporosis

Although you cannot control the factors from age and genetics, you can alter the following factors that lead to Osteoporosis:

  • Smoking – Smoking makes the bones less healthy and more prone to breaking or not healing after a break.
  • Low vitamin D levels – A healthy diet with calcium and vitamin D is essential for bone health. Add fruits and vegetables daily to improve your bones.
  • Lack of exercise – Regular exercise is important for strong bones. Activities like walking, swimming and biking can improve the health of your bones.

If you feel you are at risk for osteoporosis and have never had a bone density test, talk to your doctor today.