Friday, June 5, 2009

Osteoporosis: Tackle It Before It Tackles You

Osteoporosis is accelerated bone loss. Most of us Boomers know by now that the natural aging process causes many changes, among them some bone mass loss. More prevalent in women after menopause, the process of aging in general diminshes the efficiency of how bones "remodel" in the body. The typical process for remodeling bone, including mineralization, takes about eight months. As our bones become less effective at maintaining themselves, we experience greater risk of osteoporosis.

Because it is a "silent" disease without symptoms for a long period of time, many do not even realize they are losing bone density. There are easy tests available today to measure bone density through physicians and other health care professionals. Diet and exercise play significant roles in the prevention of osteoporosis, as does the restriction of certain prescription and over-the-counter medications, especially those for arthritis symptoms. As the body produces fewer hormones (e.g., estrogen in women and androgen in men), the body's ability to create new bone and to absorb properly "old" bone during the process of remodeling has a profound impact on susceptibility to osteoporosis. Scientists have not conclusively eliminated hereditary factors from playing a role with this disease.

With sustained bone loss over time, the risk of falling increases. And with falling, comes the serious potential outcome of broken bones. Fifty-five percent of elders who fall do so at home. We have written in this blog previously about fall prevention and treatment. Enhancing balance and strengthening core muscles are important for overall health and essential for strengthening bones. Use an exercise ball, sitting disc or balance board as a regular part of your fitness routine.

Losing some bone as we age might be a normal part of the process, however if you focus on these few simple ideas and have a routine check of bone density, you are likely to tackle this disease before it tackles you and brings you down.

Do you have osteoporosis? If so, what are you doing to stay on top of it? If not, have you have a bone density test? Tell us about it. Post a comment to this blog now.

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