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The Silent Disease

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a loss of bone. It occurs due to mineral deficiency, particularly calcium, in your bones. Osteoporosis is a “silent disease” because it progresses without symptoms or pain until the loss of bone becomes so severe that it begins to break very easily. Breaks normally happen in the spine, hips and wrists of people who suffer from Osteoporosis, which often leads to severe disability. It is a very common disease, but very preventable.

Am I at risk?

Although Osteoporosis can affect anybody, women are generally more affected than men. One in every 3 women and one in every 5 men will develop Osteoporosis after the age of 50. When certain risk factors are present your chances of developing Osteoporosis increases significantly. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions below, you have an increased risk of suffering from Osteoporosis.

  • Do you have a small, thin frame?
  • Has your mother or sister or other female relative broken her bones?
  • Are you a postmenopausal woman?
  • Have you had an early menopause?
  • Have you had surgery to remove your ovaries?
  • Do you have thyroid problems for which you are taking thyroxine?
  • Have you been taking corticosteroids for a long time (more than 3 months)?
  • Is your diet low on dairy products and other sources of calcium?
  • Are you physically inactive?
  • Do you smoke or have you smoked in the past?
  • Do you drink alcohol?
  • Are you over the age of 50?
  • Have you broken a bone after the age of 40?
  • Do you have a family history of Osteoporosis?
  • Are you being treated for Breast Cancer?
  • Do you lack direct exposure to sunlight on your skin?

What should I do if I am at risk?

Bone Mineral Density Scan (DEXA) of the spine and hips are considered the “gold standard” for diagnosing Osteoporosis and following changes in bone density over time. This study is quick and non-invasive and will tell you how much at risk you are of bone fracture. It is important to know your risk for developing Osteoporosis so that it can be diagnosed at an early stage and treated before bone fractures occur. Sunlight is a major factor in production of Vitamin D which is vital for healthy bones.

The cornerstones of prevention are regular exercise, a rich calcium diet, exposure to sunlight and check-ups to ensure early diagnosis.

Ask your doctor for an imaging request for your bone mineral density assessment.

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