North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Health

March 4, 2009

Osteoporosis and your bone health

By Ryan Budisalich

Special to The North Jefferson News




Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bone health to gradually decline and leads to an increased possibility for millions of elderly Americans to experience a fracture.

If the disease is not prevented, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. If the disease is left untreated, breaks can occur from minor falls or in serious cases from simple daily tasks or actions such as a sneeze.

Any bone in the body can be affected, but fractures most often occur in the hip, spine and wrist. Fractures of the hip usually require hospitalization and major surgery while spinal fractures can lead to loss of height, severe back pain and physical deformity.

Osteoporosis affects people of all races and an estimated 10 million Americans already have osteoporosis, while 34 million more have low bone mass placing these people at an increased risk for developing the disease.

These tremendous numbers make osteoporosis a major public health threat for our country. Women make up 80 percent of all osteoporosis cases as they are four times more likely than men to suffer from the disease.

However, men are also at risk of suffering from the disease as there is an estimated 2 million men with osteoporosis.

Certain people are more likely than others to develop osteoporosis. A few risk factors for developing the disease include: being female, older age, being small or thin, previous broken bones, an inactive lifestyle, smoking and alcohol abuse. Osteoporosis does not have any obvious signs or symptoms. People can not feel their bones getting weaker; they may not know they have osteoporosis until they break a bone.

Women in particular can lose a large percentage of their bone mass in the first few years following menopause. The good news is that osteoporosis is mostly preventable in the majority of people.

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