May is National Osteoporosis Awareness Month, which means it’s time to bring much needed attention to this condition that affects millions of Americans. By bringing awareness to this debilitating disease, we can help those who are currently affected and also teach others important ways to help prevent it themselves. The best way to raise awareness for osteoporosis is to start with understanding the disease.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Simply put, osteoporosis is a medical condition that causes your bones to become brittle and fragile due to loss of tissue. If you view a healthy bone under a microscope, it has a honeycomb appearance. Osteoporosis affected bones have much larger holes and spaces than those found in healthy bones. This loss of bone density leads the bones to be very weak, meaning they are more likely to break even from very minor injuries.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that about 54 million Americans have either osteoporosis or low bone mass, which places them at an increased risk to develop the disease. One of the most serious complications that comes with osteoporosis is breaking bones. Due to the low density of the bone, even a simple fall could result in a serious injury, including in the hip, spine, or wrist.
Who Is At Risk For Osteoporosis And How Can It Be Avoided?
Both men and women are at risk for osteoporosis, although women have a higher chance of developing it. It is most commonly diagnosed in postmenopausal women and in men over 50. It is common in patients who have autoimmune disorders, blood and bone marrow disorders, digestive and gastrointestinal disorders, cancer, nervous system disorders, mental illness, or hormonal changes. Since you can’t detect bone density loss from the outside, it can often go undiagnosed for a long period, making it more difficult to treat and manage.
How Can Osteoporosis Be Treated?
Staying healthy and maintaining an ideal weight is important in avoiding or treating osteoporosis. Additionally, calcium and vitamin D should be an essential part of your diet. Once developed, there is no actual cure for the disease, only steps you can take to prevent or slow its progress. There are some drug treatments available that your doctor can discuss with you as well. If you suffer from osteoporosis or worry about the risk of the disease, visit The Woman’s Clinic to discuss your health and treatment options.