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How to Prevent Osteoporosis Now

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Author name: Lee Health


Osteoporosis graphic

As many as one in two women and one in four men over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. According to the foundation, osteoporosis is not a normal part of aging. Better yet, it’s treatable and, in some cases, even preventable.

“Osteoporosis is an age-related degenerative disease in which the bones become more fragile and more likely to break,” says Tiffany Hendrickson, an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in Surgical Optimization with Lee Health.

“The framework inside the bones becomes so thin that even a mild fall or small bump against a doorway can break a bone. Fractures of the wrist, hip and spine are among the most common.”

So, the sooner you start keeping your bones healthy, the better off you’ll be in your later years. 

Who gets osteoporosis?

About 54 million Americans have osteoporosis, Hendrickson says. Starting around age 40, we slowly begin to lose bone mass, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

At about age 50, bone loss accelerates, and we lose more bone than we form. 

“For some people, the first sign of osteoporosis is when they notice they’re getting shorter or they break a bone easily,” Hendrickson says. “Osteoporosis is a ‘silent’ disease because typically you don’t have symptoms from it. You may not even know you have the disease until you break a bone.”

Osteoporosis affects women and men of all races and ethnic groups. The disease can start at any age, although the risk for developing the disease increases as you age. 

For many women, the disease begins to develop a year or two before menopause.

“Men also can get osteoporosis,” Hendrickson says. “It’s true more women than men get osteoporosis, but both older men and women from all backgrounds are at risk for osteoporosis.”

Other factors to consider include:

  • Osteoporosis is most common in non-Hispanic white women and Asian women.
  • African American and Hispanic women have a lower risk of developing osteoporosis, but they are still at significant risk.
  • Among men, osteoporosis is more common in non-Hispanic whites.
  • Certain medications, such as some cancer medications and glucocorticoid steroids, may increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Source: National Institutes of Health

Get invested in your bone health now

Whether you’re young or old, you can do a lot to prevent the onset of osteoporosis. 

Hendrickson suggests these areas to focus on:

  • Stay physically active by participating in weight-bearing exercises such as walking.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Quit smoking, or don’t start if you already don’t smoke.
  • Take your medications, if prescribed, which can help prevent fractures in people who have osteoporosis.
  • Eat a nutritious diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to help maintain good bone health.
  • Keep your home safe from falls. Falls can cause a bone to break, especially in someone with osteoporosis. But most falls can be prevented. Here’s how to make your home fall-proof.

Talk to your doctor about your bone health. Talk over your risk factors and ask if you should get a bone density test, called a DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan.

Learn more here about how Lee Physician Group doctors are using this test to diagnose bone loss and osteoporosis, see how well osteoporosis medicine is working, and predict your risk of future bone fractures.

Osteoporosis resources for you:

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