As you get older, your doctor may talk to you about osteoporosis, a disease that occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the body’s removal of old bone, resulting in bones becoming fragile and brittle. Osteoporosis affects mostly older women, but prevention starts when you are younger.
No matter your age, you can take steps to build bone mass and prevent bone loss. One of the best ways to prevent weak bones is to work on building strong ones. Building strong bones during childhood and the teen years is important to help prevent osteoporosis later.
As you get older, your bones don't make new bone fast enough to keep up with the bone loss. After menopause, bone loss happens even more quickly, but you can take steps to slow the natural bone loss with aging and to prevent your bones from becoming weak and brittle.
- Get enough calcium and vitamin D each day.
- Get active. Choose weight-bearing physical activities like running or dancing to build and strengthen your bones.
- Don't smoke. Smoking raises your risk for broken bones.
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation (for women, this is one drink a day at most). Too much alcohol can harm your bones. Also, too much at one time or mixed with certain medicines can affect your balance and lead to falls.
- Talk to your doctor about whether you need medicine to prevent bone loss.
- Most people with osteoporosis don’t experience any symptoms. Bones can deteriorate without any pain or weakness. Some people may only find out they have osteoporosis after they break a bone.
There are many good treatments now available to prevent the risk of fractures and even to help reverse osteoporosis. In addition to calcium and vitamin D, there are prescription medicines that can treat osteoporosis effectively. The most common class of medicines used to treat osteoporosis is called bisphosphonates. Your doctor will recommend the one that is best for you.
If you have any questions about what you should be doing to prevent or treat osteoporosis, ask any of our doctors at your next appointment. We have the information you need.