“Your bones are for life. Look after them and they will carry you far.”- Susan Hampshire
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder characterised by a loss of bony tissue that results in brittle, porous bones.
Contrary to popular belief, osteoporosis isn’t a normal part of ageing. Experts now know that the condition can, in many instances, be prevented, and early detection allows for effective treatment.
However, osteoporosis is still very common. Worldwide, the disease causes more than 8.9 million fractures every year, resulting in a fracture every 3 seconds, the International Osteoporosis Foundation reports. In South Africa, a third of women and a fifth of men will develop osteoporosis in their lifetime.
Called the “silent disease”, osteoporosis usually progresses slowly over many years without any obvious symptoms, with the first sign often being a fracture. What many people don’t realise is that these fractures can be very serious: research shows that 20% of people with hip fractures die within one year of the event.
Apart from being life-threatening, osteoporotic fractures are also costly to treat and can have a major impact on one’s quality of life and independence.
Although treatable, preventing osteoporosis is much more effective. Consuming enough calcium and vitamin D-rich foods and drinks throughout your lifetime, staying active, not smoking, not using corticosteroids for long periods of time, maintaining a healthy body weight, and using alcohol only moderately are some of the steps you can take to cut your risk.
(Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to provide general background information and not to substitute any medical diagnosis or advice received from a qualified healthcare professional.)
– International Osteoporosis Foundation. Facts and statistics. [Online] Available at: http://www.iofbonehealth.org/facts-statistics. Accessed: 26 August 2015
– Merck.com. Osteoporosis. [Online] Available at: http://www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual_ha/sec3/ch22/ch22a.html Accessed: 26 August 2015
– National Osteoporosis Foundation of South Africa. Homepage. [Online] Available at: http://osteoporosis.org.za/general/index.html Accessed: 26 August 2015
– Health24.com. South Africans underestimate men’s risk of osteoporosis. Last updated: 20 October 2014. [Online] Available at: http://www.health24.com/Medical/Osteoporosis/Osteoporosis-in-men-and-women/South-Africans-underestimate-mens-risk-of-osteoporosis-20141020 Accessed: 26 August 2015
– Health24.com. What is osteoporosis? Reviewed by Tereza Hough, CEO, National Osteoporosis Foundation of South Africa, 2010. Last updated: 7 July 2014. [Online] Available at: http://www.health24.com/Medical/Osteoporosis/Overview/What-is-Osteoporosis-20130205 Accessed: 26 August 2015