May is National Osteoporosis Awareness Month. Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue.
Osteoporosis has few symptoms and causes little discomfort, so most people remain unaware that they carry this disease until they suffer a fracture or notice they’ve lost height. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about one in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
To ward off this unseen threat, doctors recommend vigilance starting at a young age. This should include:
• Getting acquainted with the symptoms of osteoporosis like back pain, stooped posture, loss of height, bone fractures and protruding abdomen.
• Understanding your risk factors, including being female, post-menopausal, not getting enough exercise, having a small, thin body, smoking and alcohol consumption, calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, thyroid problems, celiac disease, chemotherapy and a family history of osteoporosis.
• Weight-bearing activity like running, hiking, dancing and resistance training can help maintain and build up bones’ strength.
• Eating foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D, or consider supplements.
• Review your medications, as some drugs may hinder your bone health and/or raise your risk of getting a fracture. Talk to your doctor about the side effects of each medication you take.
For more information and resources, visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation at www.nof.org or consult your primary care physician.