World Osteoporosis Day 2012
16th OF October 2012
October 20, 2012 marks World Osteoporosis Day, so there’s no better time to find out more about this common disease that affects thousands of Australians every year – of which almost 82 per cent are female.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition whereby bones become brittle and fragile, making them more vulnerable to fractures. It occurs when minerals, such as calcium, are lost from the bones faster than the body is able to replace them, resulting in a loss of bone density.
Every 5-6 minutes, someone in Australia is admitted to hospital because of an osteoporosis-related fracture, and unfortunately this number is set to rise significantly as the ageing population increases.
One of the most startling figures is that one in two Australian women will have an osteoporotic fracture after the age of 60, and for men the figure is one in three.
Am I at risk?
Osteoporosis is most common in those over the age of 55, as the disease occurs slowly over time. Women are much more susceptible to osteoporosis due to the rapid decline in oestrogen after they go through menopause.
There are other risk factors that may put you at even higher risk of developing the condition, some of which can be avoided by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Diet lacking in calcium
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Certain medical conditions (including Vitamin D deficiency and arthritis)
- Lack of exercise over long periods of time
What are the symptoms?
One of the most worrying things about osteoporosis is that most people don’t know they have it until it’s too late. Often called ‘the silent disease’, osteoporosis usually has no signs or symptoms until a fracture happens.
If your doctor suspects osteoporosis they will do a simple and painless bone density test.
Prevention is always better than a cure, so taking measures to ensure you are fit and healthy at as young an age as possible is essential - not only for preventing osteoporosis but many other age-related diseases.
There are three main keys to prevention: exercise, calcium and vitamin D. This means, drinking plenty of milk, getting regular exercise and getting adequate sunlight exposure (wearing SPF protection of course!).
Dealing with osteoporosis
If you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis there are measures you can take to prevent it getting worse and also to minimise the risk of fractures.
A healthy, active lifestyle is always the number one priority, which may include cutting out alcohol and smoking and increasing your exercise regime. Your doctor may prescribe you medication. There are several different ones out there, so they will choose the right one for you.
Modern osteoporosis medicine is generally very good, and although it works quite slowly many patients see improved bone density after several months. You may also be advised of lifestyle changes, such as falls prevention, to help minimise your risk of fractures.
The theme of the 2012 World Osteoporosis Day is preventing secondary fracture – with the slogan ‘Stop at one – make your first break your last’. The campaign is intended to encourage people to get the correct treatment following a fall or a fracture. If you or a friend or relative suffers from a fracture it’s important to seek advice from your doctor and obtain a clinical assessment to identify whether or not you may have osteoporosis. Identifying osteoporosis early on will help reduce the likelihood of future fractures. For more information on osteoporosis visit the World Osteoporosis Day website: www.worldosteoporosisday.org.