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Osteoporosis is Nothing to Sneeze at

  • Category: General Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Matt Gougler
Osteoporosis is Nothing to Sneeze at

While breaking a bone is nothing to sneeze at, consider this alarming fact: For those who have severe osteoporosis, sneezing literally can result in a broken bone.

Osteoporosis impacts some 54-million Americans who've either been diagnosed with the disease or whose low bone mass places them at an increased risk for developing osteoporosis. Other sobering statistics include:

  • Nearly 70 percent of osteoporosis sufferers are women.
  • One of every two women over age 50, and one in four men in the same age category, will experience at least one osteoporosis-related fracture.
  • Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5-million fractures each year; approximately 300,000 hip fractures, 700,000 vertebral fractures, 250,000 wrist fractures, and more than 300,000 assorted other fractures.
  • Of the 80,000 men who fracture a hip annually, one-third will die within a year.

Clearly, osteoporosis is nothing to sneeze at, so ATRIO Health Plans is supporting May's designation as National Osteoporosis Month by increasing awareness of this increasingly prevalent bone disease.

Osteoporosis Basics

Osteoporosis occurs when the body loses too much bone, produces too little bone, or both. Bones thus become vulnerable to fracturing from a fall, or in especially acute cases, from simply sneezing or brushing against an object.

From a microscopic perspective, a healthy bone resembles a honeycomb. When osteoporosis takes hold, that honeycomb-like structure becomes enlarged, rendering bones weaker and more susceptible to breaking.

Detecting Osteoporosis

While osteoporosis can occur at any age, its likeliness increases as we get older. Consequently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all women age 65 and older, as well as men age 75 and above, be screened for the disease.

A bone mineral density (BMD) test is the method used to diagnose osteoporosis through a technique called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Although the name is daunting, the actual procedure is painless and akin to having an x ray, but with significantly less radiation exposure.

Treatment and Prevention

If you're diagnosed with osteoporosis, you may be prescribed medication to increase bone density and thus reduce the risk of fractures. Proper nutrition also plays a key role in treating osteoporosis, and two of the most important nutrients are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is a primary building block of bone tissue, and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. A comprehensive osteoporosis treatment program also should include exercises designed to increase and maintain bone density.

For those who've been diagnosed with osteoporosis, exercise recommendations include:

  • Resistance training two or three times per week, with each session incorporating movements to strengthen the lower limbs, trunk and arm muscles. Each exercise should be performed eight to 10 times.
  • Movements that improve balance; these should be performed for a few minutes at least twice a week. To ensure safety, do these exercises while holding on to a chair or fixed object, such as a wall.
  • Stretching to promote flexibility.

In an effort to prevent osteoporosis, recommended exercises include:

  • Weight-bearing exercises that require working against gravity while holding your body upright. These can be high-impact exercises such as dancing, running, or jumping rope; or they can fall into the low-impact category, such as high-speed walking or using an elliptical machine.
  • Strength-training exercises that involve resistance. This can be achieved by lifting weights, using elastic resistance bands, or lifting your own body weight via exercises such as squats or push-ups.

Bone health is essential to maximum well-being, so provide your bones with the strengthening protection that can last a lifetime.