As Halloween gets closer, we are starting to see more and more images that represent the holiday—witches, ghosts, goblins, and skeletons. Seeing skeletons on shirts and on decorative window stickers has got us thinking about bones. And since, at the hospital, we see things from the perspective of health, we’ve been thinking a lot about bone health lately.
Just like Ezekiel’s dry bones that come to life, our bones are alive, constantly living and growing. Bone cells recycle and replace themselves like all our body’s cells. And when your body isn’t making enough replacement bone cells or you are losing too much, you risk having thinning bones that break easier—a condition called osteoporosis.
So, who’s at risk?
Age is a risk factor, as bones tend to produce less cells as you get older. Also, women are particularly at risk—eighty percent of those affected by osteoporosis are women. In particular, women who have gone through menopause are at risk, as they can lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the first 5-7 years after menopause. While the disease is more common in older people, it can strike at any age. You’re also at risk if you have a family history of osteoporosis, or if you are small boned and thin.
Some lifestyle factors also contributed to risk of osteoporosis. If you smoke or drink alcohol or excessive caffeine, you are more at risk. And some medications contribute to osteoporosis, like excessive thyroid hormones.
What can you do?
Fortunately, osteoporosis is preventable. Here are a few simple steps to help keep your bones strong:
- Take 1000-1200 mg of calcium daily and 400-1000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily
- Eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables every day
- Engage in regular weight-bearing and muscle strengthening exercise. Read about some of the best exercises for bone health on the National Osteoporosis Foundation website.
- Stop smoking
- Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Conduct routine Bone Density screenings, recommended for women age 65 and older
- Consider medication for prevention and/or treatment of osteoporosis, if appropriate
- Talk with your Little Company of Mary physician about whether or not bone mineral densitometry is right for you. A Bone Mineral Density Test is the best test currently available to detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs. If you don’t have a physician, use our physician finder to find the right doctor for you.
Get a quick screening!
Also good news: osteoporosis is treatable, and you don’t have to wait for your bones to break to detect if you are at risk for osteoporosis. Anyone can get a Bone Density screening at Little Company of Mary Hospital for just $5. Our Heel Ultrasound Screening will assess the status of your bones and let you know if you’re at risk. Register for your screening online now, or call 708-423-5774.
Have a great Halloween, and let the skeletons you see remind you to consider your risk factor for Osteoporosis!
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