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Your search for "women's health" returned 1 records from our FAQs
Osteoporosis runs in my family. What can I do to avoid it?
By Hillary Hawkins, M.D., Medical Director at Sheltering Arms Hospital Hanover
The statistics are sobering. One out of five American women over 50 has osteoporosis. One in three Americans 65 and older falls each year. Falls are the sixth leading cause of death in older adults.
Dr. Hillary Hawkins, Medical Director at Sheltering Arms Hospital Hanover, would love to see those statistics change. Too often, she sees patients after their a fall, when bones are broken and recovery is long.
Left untreated, osteoporosis progresses slowly with no symptoms in the early stages of the disease, and thus it goes undiagnosed. When symptoms do occur, it is usually too late to erase the damage to your bones. A devastating fracture may be the first sign, and that frequently is a life-changing event, making it difficult to get around independently.
As we age, our bodies may not absorb enough calcium and phosphate from our diet, thus the bone tissue gets weaker. If you were to look at osteoporotic bone under a microscope, it looks like a honeycomb and the holes get bigger and bigger as the disease progresses. The decline of estrogen in women, and testosterone in men, is the leading cause of osteoporosis. There are many other causes, however, that would need to be evaluated by a doctor.
The good news is there are lots of ways to stave off brittle bones. Drugs, supplements and/or hormone replacement may be advised by a doctor, but there are things you can do on your own.
Weight bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging and even dancing, is crucial to maintaining your strength not only in your muscles, but your bones as well. Add in some resistance training, such as free weights, stretch bands or weight machines. Exercises such as tai chi and yoga are another critical component in the prevention of falls, as they will greatly improve balance.
Diet and vitamins
Add in high calcium foods, such as cheese, ice cream, green vegetables, salmon, low-fat milk and yogurt. If you are not currently taking a regular daily vitamin, start. And get out in the sun to increase your vitamin D.
Curtail bad habits
Alcohol consumption and smoking can damage your bones, so eliminating, or at least reducing, these habits is important.