Throughout our lives, our bones break down and regenerate. When we’re young, our bone mass increases (and we grow) because bone regenerates faster than it breaks down. As we age, however, bone breaks down faster than it regenerates. Thus, we are faced with the risk of developing osteoporosis, or the weakening of bones.
Women are more likely than men to develop osteoporosis, typically because women start with lower bone density and lose bone mass more quickly than men do. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, “[o]f the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about eight million or 80% are women.” In addition to being female, other factors that increase your risk of being affected by osteoporosis include:
- Aging – being over 50
- Ethnicity – being Caucasian or Asian
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Small body frame – typically means less bone mass
- Low sex hormones – women lose estrogren through menopause; men lose testosterone as they age
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Having prior broken bones
- Taking certain medications, including steroids
- Diet lacking in calcium and vitamin D
- Lack of exercise
You may not know that you are being affected by osteoporosis until you suffer a bone fracture, typically of the wrist, hip, or spine. Other symptoms may include:
- Loss of height
- Stooped posture
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
You may be able to prevent and/or treat osteoporosis by:
- Including calcium and vitamin D in your diet – low-fat dairy products; soy products, like tofu; calcium-fortified orange juice and cereal; salmon; and dark green, leafy vegetables
- Taking calcium or vitamin D supplements
- Taking osteoporosis medications, such as bisphosphonates, to keep up bone mass
- Using hormone replacement therapy
- Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol
- Participating in weight-bearing, strength-training, flexibility, and balance exercises – you may benefit from one of our Pilates Wellness classes (we offer private instruction and small group classes)
Before beginning an osteoporosis treatment plan, you should consult with a physician who may first recommend certain tests, such as a bone density measurement.
Tess Maloney, FNP in our Pacific Beach Urgent Care office specializes in women’s health issues. Please feel free to contact our office to schedule an appointment with her or another provider if you have any concerns about osteoporosis or other women’s health issue.
The content provided in our website blogs is offered for informational purposes only, and it should not be considered as the practice of medicine or medical advice regarding the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition or disease. You should consult with a medical professional if you have any questions regarding a condition or disease in relation to your specific healthcare needs. If you feel that you are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact 911 immediately.