Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle. In fact so brittle that even bending forward and coughing can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis affects 1in 3 persons above the age of 50 years and 1in 2 above the age of 65 years and everybody after 75 years of age.
So, Is osteoporosis a problem?
More than 70% of the population has not been screened and doesn’t know that they have osteoporosis. The current expectancy of 67 years is expected to increase to 71 by 2025 and 77 by 2050.So at present 10% of population is above 50 years, it will become about 34% by 2050. Thus a surge in number of people affected by osteoporosis. Even by the lowest estimates, about 1.5 million fractures happen annually, which is just the tip of the iceberg as we have statistics only from the 5 metros and major cities only. Irregular, intermittent and habitual low intake of calcium and vitamin D3, lack of exercise along with high prevalence of diabetes is also adding to the problem. Smoking, heavy drinking, steroid use, hormonal imbalance some of the major Causes of Osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is also becoming a major health concern in the younger population due to lifestyle changes and diet habits (Junk food, soft drinks).Work from home, Parks and gyms have being closed during the pandemic lead to a peculiar and strange situation where people are deprived of sunlight exposure and exercises. Steroids were the main stay in the treatment of those effected by the corona virus. This has resulted in an alarming rise of ‘silent osteoporotic fractures’ equivalent to a ‘skeletal heart attack’.
To prevent Osteoporosis, the following should be observed
- Ensure healthy diet which includes Calcium and proteins, two key ingredients for bone health. With advancing age, the body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals may be reduced. In fact, older adults often suffer from malnutrition as they might not be eating enough or absorbing nutrients from their diet. So Calcium and Vitamin D supplements should be considered when daily consumption is low and they have comorbidities like diabetes and hypertension.
- Get enough Vitamin D, which is made in the skin on exposure to sunlight. The average young adult requires about 15 minutes of sunlight exposure daily. Vitamin D is present in oily fish, eggs, mushrooms and fortified dairy products and juices. For vegetarians, we generally advise weekly vitamin D supplements.
- training a healthy body weight. Being too thin is also damaging to your bone health.
- Keep active. Take regular muscle strengthening and weiweight-bearingercises. Participate in exercise activities that improve balance, posture and coordination. Even in limited spaces, this can be done by spot marching and stretching.
- Avoid smoking and heavy drinking.
- Fall prevention by decluttering and avoiding water and oil spills on slippery floors.
- Finally consult a doctor for bone and health assessment especially if the risk factors of osteoporosis have been identified. The prevailing condition globally may take much longer than anticipated to come to normalcy. Hence it is wiser to preserve our bone health in as efficient manner as possible. Only a collective effort by the government and health care providers with the participation of media can spread the awareness in combating this pandemic.