INTRODUCTION TO OSTEOPOROSIS
If you have osteoporosis, it means your bones are very brittle and even a bump or fall can seriously injure you. Also known as a “silent disease”, it is a fast-growing problem in Singapore, especially with an ageing population.
The most common places that fracture are the hip, spine, wrist, ribs, pelvis and upper arms. One in three people who fracture their hops eventually become dependent on others. One in five die within a year of fracturing their hips.
WHAT CAUSES IT
Osteoporosis happens when your body loses more bone tissue than it produces it. Bones are living tissue, and new bone cells must be produced so they can replace old ones.
It is important to keep your diet high in calcium, especially when you reach 65 years old for men and 50 years old for women. At this age, most people will start losing bone mass.
You may be at higher risk of osteoporosis if you have the following:
- A previous non-violent fracture
- Early menopause before age 45 years, whether natural or through surgery
- An immediate family member who has osteoporosis
- Being underweight
- Being frail due to long-term illness
- Alcohol abuse
- Unable to move for a long period of time
- A diet that does not have enough calcium or vitamin D
- Certain illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Certain medicine, such as corticosteroids, thyroid medication
HOW IT IS DIAGNOSED
A doctor will measure your bone density using a bone mineral density test, at various points of your body such as your hip and spine. This calculates how much bone calcium you have and can tell early on if you are losing bone mass.
If you are an Asian woman, the Osteoporosis Self-Assessment Tool for Asians can tell if you are at low, moderate or high risk of osteoporosis based on your height and weight.
Risk Category - What This Means
- High You are at high risk of developing osteoporosis. About 61 per cent of people in the high-risk group have osteoporosis. Get your bone mass checked by a doctor.
- Moderate You have a moderate risk of developing osteoporosis. About 15 per cent of people in this group have osteoporosis. See a doctor to find out if you have other risk factors.
- Low Your risk of having osteoporosis is low. Only about 3 per cent of people in this group have osteoporosis. But do see a doctor if you have any of the risk factors.
HOW IT IS TREATED
- Calcium and Vitamin D: These supplements make sure the body has enough of these substances to help the osteoporosis medicine work.
- Human Replacement Therapy: Taking human replacement therapy for a long time comes with risks. If you are using this therapy only to prevent osteoporosis, you should know there are other options that also work as well
HOW TO PREVENT IT
You can prevent osteoporosis by:
- Taking more calcium, such as in dairy like milk and cheese
- Regular exercise: This is the best way to keep your bones strong and healthy
- Quit smoking, drink less alcohol
Source: Singapore Silver Pages
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