“You have to take care of your bones!” How many times did you hear this? I’m sure you have heard it enough to realize that it’s important to eat enough spinach and broccoli even though you don’t like them, and to take this gigantic vitamin tablet every day because if you don’t then you are giving an opportunity to one of the star bone enemies to pay you a visit!
A very common bone enemy is Osteoporosis, a condition that happens when the bones suffer from a loss of Calcium decreasing the density of the bones. This weakens the bones and makes them more fragile and more susceptible to fractures. Many people could go for years with undiagnosed Osteoporosis because in most cases it’s detected when a fracture happens. Women are more likely to develop Osteoporosis than men because the rate of bone loss speeds up after Menopause.
Here are some of the risk factors for Osteoporosis:
- Eating disorders
- Family History
- Alcohol abuse
- Early menopause
- Long-term use of some medications such as Corticosteroids, Heparin and some anti-seizure medications like Phenytoin and Phenobarbital
- Thyroid problems
- Not getting enough Calcium
- Lack of exercise
- Caucasian or Asian race
- Poor nutrition and poor general health
- Low estrogen levels in women due to early surgical removal of both ovaries
- Vitamin D deficiency
Now that you are familiar with the common risk factors, it’s easy to determine what you need to do to protect yourself. We could probably all agree that we need enough Calcium every day. If you don’t think you are getting enough from your diet then you need to take Calcium over-the-counter. Before menopause, you need to take about 1000 mg of Calcium every day. After menopause, you need 1500 mg every day unless you are taking Estrogen. If you are taking Estrogen then 1000 mg should be enough. I always prefer Calcium and Vitamin D combinations because Vitamin D helps the body absorb more Calcium.
Medications used to treat Osteoporosis:
Alendronate and risedronate: These medicines are used to help prevent and treat Osteoporosis. They decrease the rate of bone loss and reduce the risk of bone fractures. They are taken orally. Their most common side effect is upset stomach this is why it’s advised to stay in an upright position for at least 30 minutes after taking the medicine.
Biophosphonates: They help reduce the risk of fractures and increase bone density in the hips and the spine. Side effects include irritation of the esophagus. People with kidney disease cannot take these medicines.
Calcitron: This is a hormone that helps slow the breakdown of bones. It’s available as a nasal spray. Most common side effects include irritation of the lining of the nose and headache.
Raloxifene: This medicine is used to prevent and treat Osteoporosis in women by increasing bone density. It resembles some of the effects of estrogen.
Teriparatide: This medicine is a synthetic form of parathyroid hormone and helps bone to grow.
Ibandronate: This medicine helps to slow bone loss and increase bone density.
Always remember that your life style can directly affect your bones. Establishing a daily exercise regimen, eating a well-balanced diet, limiting alcohol consumption and reducing or stopping smoking are major ways you can protect your bones.