NCTV Episode 39

Continuing with the series of bitesize health tip videos which can be found here on my YouTube Channel, this episode, includes:-

  • What is osteoporosis
  • Who gets it
  • The dangers if you have it
  • How to avoid it
  • The treatments available

Transcript

If you’d prefer to read the content within, rather than watch the video, then feel free to read the transcript, as follows:-

Hello and welcome to NCTV Episode 39 which is about osteoporosis and what you can do to build bone strength and prevent bone loss in later life.

Osteoporosis is often referred to as a ‘silent disease’ because there is very often little sign of it existing.

So firstly, what is osteoporosis? Well, put simply, it is a condition that speeds up the loss of bone strength.

Despite popular belief, it’s not confined to elderly frail ladies or post-menopausal women either. People of any age, particularly if your mobility is restricted, can suffer from it.

Some other causes can include poor nutrition, eating disorders, over-training in a particular sport, or chronic steroid use. Whilst it’s more common in women, note that men can suffer from osteoporosis too with the ratio being approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 12 men resulting in over 3 million people with it currently, in the UK.

The reason women are at the greatest risk is because following the menopause they lose the protective benefits that come from the hormone, oestrogen. Oestrogen is responsible for facilitating the uptake and retention of calcium in bone. Hence the accelerated decline in bone mass following the menopause.

In older people, one of the main associated dangers of osteoporosis is suffering a hip fracture which has an estimated mortality rate (or death rate) of 10% within the first month and 21% within the first year.

Another common occurrence with osteoporosis is damage to your spine due to ‘crumbling’ vertebrae which can result in chronic pain and impact on your abdominal organs and lung capacity.

Many don’t regain full mobility or even independence following these, so knowing how to build bone strength and prevent fractures is of great importance.

The good news is that there are treatments available to reduce the amount of bone loss resulting from both age and osteoporosis.

The very best thing you can do is to achieve the best peak bone mass when you’re young, through good nutrition and an active lifestyle. However, for those who are over 40, the aim is to maximise bone strength and prevent bone loss through regular weight bearing activities.

The ironic thing is that the thought of participating in exercise or sport may be frightening, because you may worry about suffering a bone fracture with impact, loading or falling, but the research has proven the benefits of exercise, if done correctly and safely, FAR outweigh the risks of osteoporosis.

Here are 12 risk factors for getting osteoporosis:-

  1. Early menopause
  2. Hysterectomy
  3. A Family history of osteoporosis
  4. If you are underweight
  5. Have an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia
  6. Have Amenorrhea – meaning that your periods have stopped or are irregular for 6 months to a year prior to the age of menopause
  7. If you have taken or are taking chronic steroid medication
  8. Are a Smoker
  9. Have an alcohol intake of more than 4 units per day
  10. If you Lack calcium and/or vitamin D, maybe through a poor diet and minimal exposure to sunlight
  11. If you’re not very mobile, ie confined to a wheelchair, chair or bed
  12. Or have Underlying medical conditions such as: hyperthyroidism or diseases like coeliac, Cushing’s, Crohn’s, as well as diseases of the kidney or liver, rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes.

Ideally, if you have a number of these risk factors you should go for screening for osteoporosis every two years before you sustain a fracture.

In terms of treatments for osteoporosis focus should be on managing risk factors that can be addressed like making lifestyle changes and participating in fall prevention classes.

Excuse the lists but some of these treatments, 9 in fact, could be in the form of:-

  1. Weight-bearing exercises
  2. Calcium and vitamin D supplements
  3. Prescription medications
  4. Improving your BMI through healthy meal plans
  5. Getting outside in the sunlight – when we get it
  6. Receiving treatment for underlying eating disorders
  7. Reducing alcohol consumption
  8. Changing or reducing chronic steroid medication
  9. And helping to Prevent falls by removing any hazards, having your vision checked or being careful after taking any meds that make you feel drowsy or dizzy

So that just about sums up osteoporosis in a nutshell, hope you found it useful and I’ll see you again soon for some more bitesize bits to help your health flourish. Bye bye for now!