- Osteoporosis or the thinning of bones is rampant in Indian women causing fractures and bone deformities
- The brittle bone syndrome can be prevented if right measures are taken at the right time
Ghaziabad, October, 2014: Osteoporosis is a major ailment that makes old age difficult and risky. The extreme depletion of the bones leaves the afflicted extremely prone to sudden fractures and injury. However, despite it being a very common health issue in India, little is done to spread awareness about preventing the brittle bone syndrome.
It is common to come across the elderly suffering from fractures after a minor fall or just a random bending of the arm. Sometimes, the bones grow so porous that even a seemingly minoractivity like stretching the body to pull the curtain can result in a fracture.
Human body, by design, follows a projectile path, first growing and strengthening with youth, then weakening due to age-related degeneration. As we age, so do our bones. While the process of ageing cannot be stopped, the excessive depletion of the bones can be prevented by adopting a bone friendly diet and healthy lifestyle in the early stages of life.
Dr Rajesh Verma, Consultant, Joint Replacement Surgery, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad says osteoporosis is more common in women than in men Indian women are prone to this problem due to poor nutritional status and lack of awareness about the right kind of diet.
While the depletion of bone minerals is a normal part of ageing and cannot be stopped, its extent can be minimized by taking a few precautions throughout life.
“By the age of 30, our bones reach their maximum level of density. After this age, the bones start losing calcium and other minerals. The rate of bone loss becomes higher than the rate of bone regeneration. Being a progressive process, the bone loss continues throughout life. By the time we reach our 60s, the bone density becomes very low, leaving the bones very weak and fragile,” says Dr Verma.
This bone loss happens in both men and women, but it increases in women after menopause.
“Women who are on steroids due to a medical requirement are at the risk of developing osteoporosis early, as steroids lead to demineralization of bones – or depletion of the bone minerals — making them porous. Genetic predisposition is also a factor. If one or both of your parents had osteoporosis, you need to be doubly cautious about preventing it. Hormonal changes after menopause are another factor that increases the rate of bone depletion in women at middle age,” adds Dr Verma.
With women of today leading heavily unhealthy lifestyles, including an absence of physical activity, no exposure to the sun, highly unfriendly diet and increasing dependence on smoking and drinking, the brittle bone syndrome is affecting them at younger ages.
Since osteoporosis is a progressive syndrome that takes years, its effects show up when we are old. There are also no symptoms to identify that you are suffering from osteoporosis until a bone fracture actually occurs. In fact, osteoporosis will have started in human body without any warning signs for years, making any remedial measures impossible to take.
It may be an inevitable consequence of ageing, yet osteoporosis can be prevented if careful measures are taken from the initial years of life. With the right type of nutrition, bone strengthening exercises and some lifestyle modifications, the bones can be kept healthy.
Here is what we can do:
- Be aware and start taking care of your body when you are still young. Get a bone density test done once in a while to check how strong your bones are and if you need any medical intervention
- Include adequate amount of calcium in your diet. Drink milk, consume yoghurt, cheese, cereals and nuts like almonds. Consult your doctor and take calcium supplements, especially after pregnancy or a major illness.
- Make sure you get enough vitamin D for your bones. Even if you are scared of turning a shade darker, do spend 15 minutes out in the sun at least thrice a week. Indians are found highly deficient in vitamin D, which is an irony in a tropical country.
- Exercise regularly to keep the bones and muscles healthy. Adopt weight bearing exercises to strengthen the bones, walk and jog every day.
- Avoid smoking. Excessive smoking is not good for any part of the body including bones. The process of healing is believed to be slow in people who smoke.