May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, so this is the perfect time to review the following details of osteoporosis that are discussed and emphasized by the National Osteoporosis Foundation:

What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis translates to porous bones, which will give the bone a honeycomb appearance when examining it under a microscope. This is a disease and affects the bones either by decreasing bone production or loss of bone, and sometimes it can be a combination of both. This honeycomb type of bone has decreased density and it is very weak, even a small accident could cause a fracture that would not even cause injury to someone who had normal bone density. The most commonly fractured bones in patients with osteoporosis include: hip, spine, or wrist, however other bones are also at risk. Patients with osteoporosis will commonly mention that they have been shrinking as they age; this is due to the vertebrae collapsing. This disease is very serious as it does impact daily living since it is more difficult to do simple tasks, especially if the patient has experienced fractures. Sadly, studies have shown that 20% of elderly patients who break a hip will pass away within 1 year. Patients may also experience depression due to not being able to live their life the way that they used to.

Who is affected by osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis can impact anyone, not just females, as commonly believed. In fact 25% of men and 50% of women will break a bone due to osteoporosis. There are currently 10 million Americans living with osteoporosis and this disease constitutes 2 million broken bones each year. This is very costly not only to your health, but also to the bank. It is predicted that in 2025, osteoporosis will lead to 3 million fractures, which will total 25.3 billion dollars in medical bills in one year alone!

How can you prevent osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is sometimes referred to as the silent disease, because you don’t wake up in the morning and feel that your bones are weak. The most common presentation and sign of osteoporosis is a minor injury that leads to a fracture. However, some warning signs of osteoporosis are noticed in the spine, such as developing a curved spine or becoming shorter. You should not wait until you are elderly to begin taking measures to prevent osteoporosis; in fact you should begin during childhood. The following are excellent ways to help maintain your bone density:
Eat a well balanced diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D
• Women who are younger than 50 and men who are younger than 70 years old should have 1,000 mg of calcium daily
• Women older than 50 and men older than 70 years old should get 1,200 mg of calcium daily
• Milk, yogurt, and cheese contain the most calcium
• Women and men under the age of 50 should receive 400-800 international units of Vitamin D per day
• Women and men older than 50 years old should get 800-1,000 international units of Vitamin D daily
• Foods that are high in Vitamin D include: tuna, salmon, and Vitamin D is added to various dairy products, juice, and cereal
Exercise a minimum of three times per week
Quit Smoking and decrease alcohol consumption
Talk to your doctor about taking a supplement if you are not getting enough Calcium and/or Vitamin D

What is the treatment for osteoporosis?
Currently there is no cure for osteoporosis, which is why it is so important to take the preventative steps to avoid this disease. However, there are medications, but as with any medication there are side effects and may not be 100% effective. So this May lets focus on getting in habits to maintain healthy bones!

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