Osteoporosis affects over 10 million Americans, and 80 percent of those are women. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, an additional 34 million Americans have low bone density, a serious risk factor for developing osteoporosis and suffering a fracture. Osteoporosis is a serious health risk for women, and the more you know about this disease, the more you can do to prevent it.
Surely you know of an elderly relative or neighbor who has suffered a fracture from a fall and how difficult recovery from that kind of injury can be. These fractures are usually the result of weakened, fragile bones. In fact, osteoporosis causes fractures in one out of every two post-menopausal women over 50.
Hip fractures are extremely difficult to recover from, and often result in a permanent disability. Many women lose their independence after a fracture, and the medical costs can be huge. In fact, thirty percent of hip fracture patients end up in nursing homes within a year of their fracture, and twenty percent die in the year following a fracture.
Fractures in the spine can occur because the vertebrae become so weak that they compress. This compression can be extremely painful and lead to loss of height or stooped posture. Fractures of the spine require long recovery times, and lead to a very high risk of another spinal fracture within one year.
If you think you do not need to worry about osteoporosis until you are older, think again. Women typically have the most bone loss in the first 5 years after menopause. So, if you are a woman in your fifties, you are probably losing bone mass already. If you are Caucasian or Asian, have a small frame or have a family history of osteoporosis, your risk of developing osteoporosis is greatly increased.
There are usually no symptoms of osteoporosis in the early stages of the disease. Osteoporosis can silently rob your bones of their strength, and you might be unaware of it until a fracture occurs. Since your bones are at their peak strength at age 25, bones can begin weakening at an early age. Even if you are a healthy woman in your early thirties, you should be aware of the risks of osteoporosis and the ways to prevent it.
Do not wait to educate yourself about osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about the risk factors for the disease, ways to prevent bone loss and the newest treatments available. There are many resources for learning the facts about osteoporosis.