First, the good news: there are ways of warding off osteoporosis. Much can be achieved with an active life, a balanced diet and plenty of exercise — but it’s up to those affected to be pro-active.
What is osteoporosis?
Our bones are in a constant process of conversion. Until about the age of 35, the focus is on bone formation; after the age of 40, on bone loss. Sex hormones form a key part of the process, which is why women after menopause are particularly affected.
- Bones lose their hard substance and become porous and increasingly fragile.
- Osteoporosis can afflict the whole skeleton or individual parts.
- Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease suffered in later life.
The elderly are more likely to break a bone when they fall because their bones lack stability. For this reason, it’s important to exercise balance and mobility. Also important is to identify and eliminate potential tripping hazards in your own home.
Lower bone density is caused by increased amounts of calcium being released from the bone structure and excreted with the urine.
Certain risk factors that lead to the bone structure losing calcium
- Oestrogen deficiency after menopause or, in younger women, after removal of the ovaries.
- Testosterone deficiency in men.
- Lack of exercise.
- Inactivity of certain parts of the skeleton. Even wearing a plaster cast for four weeks not only causes muscle atrophy, but also local osteoporosis evident on an X-ray.
- Insufficient calcium and vitamin D in the diet.
- Certain medication, such as the prolonged use of cortisone or a regular intake of laxatives.
The aim of osteoporosis prevention is to stimulate bone metabolism in order to maintain or even increase bone mass. An important factor in reducing the risk of a fracture – besides exercise – is nutrition:
Exercise and sport
Eating a balanced diet that includes protein, calcium and vitamin D
Osteoporosis treatment includes exercise, nutrition, fall prevention, pain management and medication.
The aim of osteoporosis medication is to prevent further bone loss in order to promote bone formation. Doctors often prescribe medicines known as bisphosphonates to treat osteoporosis. These are designed to suppress bone loss and increase bone density, leading to improved bone stability.