What is it?
Osteoporosis, which means “porous bones,” is a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle, leading to fractures. Osteoporosis usually progresses painlessly until a fracture occurs, usually in the hip, spine or wrist.
Who gets it?
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about 54 million Americans have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis. Studies suggest that approximately one in two women and up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
What are the risk factors?
Many factors can increase your chances of developing osteoporosis:
- Being female
- Early menopause
- Poor nutrition
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Use of certain prescription drugs
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Increasing age
How do I know if I have it?
The only way to know for sure if you have osteoporosis or low bone density that puts you at risk for osteoporosis, is to have a bone mass measurement, which is also called a bone density test.
Is there any good news?
There certainly is! It’s never too late to do something to improve bone health and to stop osteoporosis in its tracks. There are many treatment options available that can slow or even reverse its progression. Talk to your physician to establish the treatment plan that is best for you. The goal is to maintain good bone health to ensure a low risk of fracture. While there is no way to completely prevent it, by knowing what factors increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, you can take steps to reduce your risk and take an active role in building bone health.
May is National Osteoporosis Month. Let it serve as a reminder to take some action now to practice the healthy habits that will affect your bone health for the rest of your life!