Osteoporosis: What You Need to Know
Common among the elderly, Osteoporosis is a serious bone disease which can cause fractures in the later stages. Damages in the hip or spine bone can cause you to be bedridden for a long time.
According to Osteoporosis Canada, around 2 million Canadians are currently affected by the disease. The good news is that you can take appropriate measures to treat and prevent the disease. Billings Lodge provides elderly care to its senior residents in a way that takes care of their physical, emotional and social needs.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis in Latin means “porous bones”. It is a chronic disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue.
Healthy bones have small spaces inside them. Osteoporosis can increase these spaces resulting in decreased strength and density.
The early stages of the disease don’t have any warning signs or symptoms; it is often referred to as a ‘silent disease.’ Generally, people get to learn about it only after they go through a fracture. Some of its common symptoms are:
• Receding gums
• Weakened grip strength
• Weak and brittle nails
You will also be at risk if you have a family history of osteoporosis. It can worsen without appropriate treatment. You can get back or neck pain or even experience a loss of height. The risk of fracture increases as the bones get thinner and weaker. When the problem becomes severe, a strong sneeze or cough is enough to cause a bone fracture. In extreme cases, vertebrae in the neck or spine become so weak that it breaks under the normal pressure of the spine. A curved back or a height loss of more than 3 cm may be a warning sign of spine fractures.
Causes and Risk Factors
Several issues can lead to Osteoporosis. A few key causes are:
• Age – The biggest reason for the problem is age. Old bones break down and new ones replace them throughout your life. However, in the 30s, the body starts breaking down the bone faster than its ability to heal itself. It causes less dense and more fragile bones.
• Menopause – Menopause is another primary cause. It strikes women between the ages of 45 to 55 years and causes hormonal changes. It makes a female body lose bone even more quickly; men lose bone at a slower rate than women at this age. At the ages of 65 to 70, women and men are usually at the same bone loss rate.
• Medical Conditions – Some diseases like diabetes, lupus, celiac disease and hyperthyroidism or the medication taken for them are not good for your bones. They may either directly or indirectly cause osteoporosis.
The biggest risk factors for osteoporosis include:
• Family history
• Early menopause
• Excessive alcohol intake
• Certain medications like corticosteroid
• Low body mass index
• Physical inactivity
• Diseases of malabsorption
• Small bone frame
What Can I Do to Prevent Bone Loss and Avoid Fractures?
Early diagnosis is important. Discuss bone health with your doctor at your next check-up. If you are aged over 50, you can get a bone density test done. It will reveal whether you have osteoporosis or if you are at the risk of developing it. The test is called densitometry or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). Wrists, hips and the spine are commonly scanned to measure the bone density. The X-ray procedure is painless and can take 10 to 30 minutes.
There is no cure for Osteoporosis but proper healthcare can protect and strengthen the bones. Some drugs like Bisphosphonates are given to slow down the breakdown process of bone and some others like Teriparatide are directed to stimulate the growth of new bones.
Mostly, doctors prescribe medications and lifestyle changes that include getting appropriate exercises and the intake of calcium and vitamin D. You should also include certain nutrients in your dailydiet which promote bone growth like:
• Vitamin K
Natural supplements like red clover, soy and black cohosh can be taken to boost bone health. But, consult your doctor before taking the supplements. They can interact with the medications you are already taking.
Weight-bearing exercises improve the strength of your bones and muscles significantly. Resistance bands, dumbbells or resistance exercise machines help to work-out efficiently. You can also climb stairs daily to increase your strength. Resistance training like leg presses, squats and push-ups help further.
Osteopenia, Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis
Osteopenia is a different condition where you suffer from low-density bones. It is very common in old age. Although the bones are not as weakened as in osteoporosis, it may eventually lead to that.
Osteoarthritis is a joint-disease and causes damages to cartilage and bones. It can affect the spine, hips, knees, feet or fingers and restrict one’s ability to do physical activities.
Our caring staff is very careful in providing a hygienic environment, a clutter-free area and using non-slip mats to prevent falls. Billings Lodge is an elderly care home that is always ready to welcome new friends. Elderly care is the fulfillment of special needs and requirements which are unique to senior citizens. Currently, we house around 80 seniors with varying care needs. Get in touch with us to check for availability or for any other concerns regarding our services.