You probably know that osteoporosis is a condition that causes your bones to become weak and brittle due to loss of bone mass and density. This makes it more likely you’ll break a bone (most commonly your wrist, hip, or spine) even doing something minor like coughing or bending over.
What you might not know is that fractures due to osteoporosis are associated with significant morbidity rates (being diseased or unhealthy) and increased mortality rates. Osteoporosis isn’t just an irritating condition. It can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Because of this, it’s important to prevent osteoporosis from becoming a problem. At Arlington Family Practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, we’ve seen many patients over the years suffer from this condition.
Some osteoporosis cases are due to factors you can’t control, while other factors are well within your capacity to control. Here’s a look at five factors that put you at risk for developing osteoporosis.
Age, gender, family history
It may be cheating to lump these together, but they all fall under the category of things you can’t do anything about. Your bone density peaks at about age 30, after which bone mass is lost much faster than it’s created.
About 50% of women and 22% of men over the age of 50 experience a fracture due to osteoporosis. This risk only increases as you get older.
As you can tell from that statistic, women are more likely to get osteoporosis than men. Their bones are lighter and thinner, and they generally live longer. If you have a parent, grandparent, or sibling with osteoporosis, you’re at greater risk for developing it as well.
Bone structure/body weight
Men and women who are thin, small-boned, and lightweight have a greater chance of being affected by osteoporosis than someone who’s larger, big-boned, and heavier.
If you’re on the skinny side, it may be a good idea to work out with weights to bulk up your muscles and provide more strength to support your bones.
If you have too much or too little of certain hormones, osteoporosis is more common.
For example, lower levels of sex hormones (estrogen in women and testosterone in men) tend to weaken bones, as does too much thyroid hormone or overactive parathyroid and adrenal glands. Consider getting your hormone levels checked and adjusting as necessary.
Bad decisions that you make in regard to your lifestyle can play a role as well. If you spend a lot of time sitting, you’re more at risk for osteoporosis than if you engage in active, weight-bearing activities and exercises. Too much alcohol and tobacco can also increase your risk.
If you’re not getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and protein in your diet, you have a greater chance of developing osteoporosis. These factors are important for building bone health and density; without them, your bones are more prone to breaking.
If you don’t get enough vitamin D and calcium in your diet (the amount increases as you age), you should take daily supplements to increase your levels.
If you’re concerned that you’re at risk for osteoporosis, call Arlington Family Practice today, or use our convenient online scheduler to book an appointment. Our expert team would be glad to guide you through this important health issue — taking it seriously may just save your life.