Osteoporosis is often referred to as ‘the silent disease’ because its symptoms are typically undetectable until one suffers a fracture. This brittle bone condition that commonly affects seniors arises due to continuous bone density loss throughout the aging process. Fractures attributed to osteoporosis aren’t rare either. One in three women over 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related break, and one in five men will experience the same.
For National Osteoporosis Month this May, take the time to educate yourself on what the condition is as well as the risk factors associated with it. By taking preventative measures now, you can decrease your likelihood of being diagnosed.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones and increases the risk of fractures in those diagnosed. Although we are able to build strong bones and increase bone density until we’re about 30 years old, this strength and mass we’ve acquired will begin to decrease as we go through the aging process. Today, 44 million people age 50 and over suffer from the condition.
3 Ways You Can Lower Your Risk
Certain factors can contribute to an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, but simple lifestyle changes and a prioritization of your overall health can combat the onset of the condition. Here are three ways you can make bone health a priority and prevent against brittle bones.
- Stick to a regular workout routine
Exercise is a crucial component to living a healthy life, and the prevention of osteoporosis is no exception. If you’ve let your activity level dip in recent years, let bone health be the encouragement you need to get moving. Focus on muscle-strengthening exercises like free weight routines and resistance band training to strengthen both your major muscle groups and your bones. Make sure to also do regular weight-bearing exercises like running and jogging to build up bone strength.
Note: if you’ve already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, stick to low-impact exercises like an elliptical session or speed walking to avoid any unwanted fractures.
- Be mindful of your eating habits
A healthy diet is important at any age, but it should especially be a priority for seniors. Eating well can prevent a number of health issues including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But, it can also build strong bones and prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
Today, Americans’ sodium intake is much higher than the recommended daily amount, and this is both bad for your waistline and for bone health. Eating high amounts of sodium regularly also causes calcium loss, one of the main minerals responsible for strong bones. To prevent brittle bones, strive to eat less than 2,300mg of sodium per day, and stick to a diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. For an easy-to-follow eating plan, check out the DASH diet recommended by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
- Talk to your doctor about your medications
We don’t often think that the medication we’re taking to treat one condition can actually contribute to the development of another. Osteoporosis can, in fact, be drug-induced because of certain medications you may have been prescribed. Two common medications that may contribute to weakened bones include:
- Invokana – This SGLT2 Inhibitor is often prescribed to type 2 diabetics to help them control their blood glucose levels. Although the medication is effective for some, recent studies have shown that patients who take Invokana are at an increased risk of bone fractures and below-the-knee amputations. The seriousness of the side effects has even spurred on patients to seek legal action.
- Corticosteroids – This type of medication is used to treat severe inflammation in patients who suffer from rheumatologic conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Short courses of the medication may also be prescribed for allergies and asthma, which often cause no side effects. If prescribed long-term for chronic conditions like the ones mentioned above, corticosteroids could cause high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and glaucoma.
If you think your medication may put you at risk for osteoporosis, don’t be afraid to bring up your concerns to your doctor.