Patients with osteoporosis experience a weakening of bones. As bones become more brittle, they are more likely to break or fracture. This condition is quite common and thought to affect about 3 million people in the UK. As people age, osteoporosis becomes more common and typically affects more women than men.
Beginning around age 35, bones become less dense. This is part of the natural aging process, but can cause symptoms of osteoporosis to worsen. In addition, women experience women lose bone material more quickly after menopause due to the decrease of estrogen. Long-term steroid use to treat conditions such as chronic inflammation or Crohn’s disease can also increase the rate of bone loss. Exercise helps mitigate the effects of bone loss and retention of calcium.
Signs and symptoms of osteoporosis develop slowly of many years. Many patients don’t know they have it until a minor fall causes a fracture, usually in the wrists, hips, or spine. Older patients with osteoporosis often display a hunched posture due to curvature of the spine. Although the condition is not painful unless a fracture occurs, and fear of injury may result in decreased mobility.
Life with Osteoporosis
Although there is no national screening program for osteoporosis in the UK, patients above the age of 50 will usually be asked screening questions during routine doctor visits. Depending on your risk factors, your doctor may recommend a bone mineral density test.
There is no cure for osteoporosis, but lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of fractures. These changes include quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and exercise. Of course, if diagnosis occurred as a result of a fracture, that must be tended to first.
To prevent fractures, your doctor may suggest calcium and vitamin D supplements or dietary changes to increase the levels of these nutrients in your body. Your doctor may also prescribe other medications. In addition, being aware of surroundings and removing tripping hazards can also reduce the occurrence of fractures. Adding assistive devices can also make living with osteoporosis easier.
Osteoporosis impacts almost every aspect of daily life. Depending on the severity, certain daily tasks can become quite difficult. Fortunately, a broad range of assistive products help make day to day living easier.
Slips and fall are quite common in the bathroom, making this a huge danger zone for patients with osteoporosis. Bath steps, grab rails, shower chairs, and non-slip mats can help prevent falls and reduce fractures.
Often, people who’ve broken a bone experience weakness or other mobility issues. In some cases, osteoporosis patients experience fractures in the vertebrae, affecting their ability to walk. In those circumstances, walking sticks, rollators, walkers, and wheelchairs can all help maintain mobility and independence.
Organizing medications and alerting someone in the case of a fall are of primary concern for people with osteoporosis. To that end, products like pill organizers and personal alarms are beneficial.