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What is osteoporosis and why does it happen?

Osteoporosis, a term meaning porous bones, is an illness that weakens bones. The disease, which is not a normal part of aging, can be serious.  It can cause broken bones, pain, suffering, and life-altering loss of mobility.  However, the good news is that it’s treatable and even preventable.

Our bones are living tissue and are constantly changing. To keep bones strong, our bodies break down old bone and replace it with new bone tissue. Around age 30, bone mass stops increasing. As people enter their 40s and 50s, more bone may be broken down than is being replaced.

The inside of bone is something like a honeycomb. Osteoporosis causes the spaces in the honeycomb to grow larger and the outer shell of bones to become thinner. All of this makes bones porous, brittle, and prone to fracture.

Osteoporosis is common among older people. One in two women and up to one in four men over the age of fifty will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

What can you do?

For some people, the first sign of osteoporosis is a broken bone or the realization they are getting shorter. Don’t wait for this to happen to you! A simple (and painless) bone density test will determine how strong your bones are. The test result, known as a T-score, will tell you your bone strength, if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia (low bone mass and a warning to take action to prevent osteoporosis later in life), and your risk for having a fracture.

Prevention is key to avoiding osteoporosis. Eating foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D is important. So is regular weight bearing exercise, such as weight training, walking, hiking, jogging, walking, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing.

Healthy lifestyle choices such as proper diet, exercise and medications can help prevent further bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures.  Speak with your doctor to see if certain medications might work to treat your osteoporosis.

In addition, you should accident proof your home to help avoid falling and fracturing fragile bones. Darien seniors can call At Home In Darien at 203.655.2227 for a free at-home safety evaluation.

For more information on osteoporosis, click here to see the fast facts sheet about Osteoporosis from the National Osteoporosis Foundation, and visit see the following resources:

National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center

1-800-624-2663 (toll-free)

1-202-466-4315 (TTY)

NIHBoneInfo@mail.nih.gov
www.bones.nih.gov

National Osteoporosis Foundation
1-800-231-4222 (toll-free)
info@nof.org
www.nof.org