Have you ever heard of the phenomenon that people appear to “shrink” as they age? As people begin to reach their golden years, they can begin to shrink for several factors. Amongst these different factors, the loss of bone density is one of the major contributors. While it is normal to lose height as we age, bone density is important for functionality and comfort. Shrinking at a faster rate might even be an indication of a much bigger problem. Osteoporosis can cause you to shrink with age and even make bones more breakable over time.
In this blog, we will go over what osteoporosis is, what causes it, and what you can do to prevent or reduce it.
What is Osteoporosis?
Just like everything in your body, bone is a living, growing tissue that changes throughout your lifespan. Osteoporosis happens when your body either loses too much bone tissue, regenerates too little bone, or both. The term osteoporosis translates to “porous bone”. When observed under a microscope, bone resembles a honeycomb and with osteoporosis, those holes are bigger. Osteoporosis can affect everyone, however, it is most common in women – especially those who are post-menopausal.
Signs and Symptoms
As the bones weaken, they are more prone to breaking. If you are over the age of 50 and break a bone, it is best to ask your doctor for a bone density test. In the early stages of bone loss, there are not many clear symptoms. As the bones continue to weaken, different symptoms may manifest in your body. These can include:
- Shrinking, or loss of height over time
- Back pain
- A bone that breaks unusually easy (often in the hip, wrist, or back)
- Hunched posture
Osteoporosis can be very painful and serious as we age. It can cause limited mobility in seniors, which can inevitably lead to more issues. As we age, our bodies do not regenerate like they do when we are young and a broken hip can be significantly harder to recover from.
Unfortunately, many of the causes of osteoporosis are things that are out of our control. Things like your age, gender, family history, race, body frame size, hormonal levels, thyroid problems, and other medical complications to name a few. In addition to this, many factors that lead to osteoporosis that are within our control. For example, poor dietary choices, a sedimentary lifestyle, eating disorders, excessive alcohol/tobacco consumption, and low calcium intake can all affect your body’s ability to regenerate bone tissue.
What Can You Do To Prevent Osteoporosis?
A healthy and active lifestyle with a nutrient-rich diet can help prevent the onset of osteoporosis. Starting young with regular exercise and healthy eating habits can help in the long-term of your bone’s density. Steps you can take to reduce osteoporosis include:
- Eat more protein*
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Maintain an active lifestyle
- Consume more calcium*
- Incorporate strength-building exercises (check with your doctor first to avoid further damage)
- Get more Vitamin D!* (this helps your body to absorb calcium and protein)
*If you are having any issues getting the recommended amount of these vitamins. Speak to your doctor about supplements.
Speak to Your Doctor
At Hillandale Primary Care, it is our goal to ensure our patients live long, healthy lives. Osteoporosis is a very common condition and can be very serious if left untreated or unmonitored. We work with our patients to answer any questions and find solutions that work into their life to help prevent and treat the signs of osteoporosis.