Be good to your bones this winter

The winter chill has hit the nation and with it comes aches and pains. Sometimes people will say the cold makes their "bones hurt."One of the major health afflictions facing mature women today goes mostly unnoticed until it's too late. Have you ever seen an elderly person with a hunched over back? This is a characteristic of osteoporosis, a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue that can lead to bone frailty and increase fractures. There are an estimated 10 million Americans already living with the disease and 80 percent are women. Often referred to as the silent disease, osteoporosis occurs without any symptoms. Most women won't realize how much bone loss has occurred until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump or fall can cause a fracture or a vertebrae to collapse. If a vertebrae collapses, the initial pain might be severe and can cause height loss and spinal deformities such as a stooped posture. "Women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone mass in five to seven years following menopause, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis," said Dr. Balu Gadhe of CareMore Health Plan. Gadhe recommends four steps that aid in osteoporosis prevention. These include: •A balanced diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D; take 1200 mg of calcium and 800 mg of vitamin D daily •Weight training and exercise •A healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol intake •Bone density testing and medication, when appropriate •On the other hand, Gadhe says that certain women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than others. These risk factors include: •Personal history of bone fracture after age 50 •Current low bone mass •History of fracture in family •Being female •Being thin and/or having a small frame •Advanced age •A family history of osteoporosis •Estrogen deficiency as a result of menopause, especially early or surgically induced •Abnormal absence of menstrual periods •Anorexia nervosa •Low lifetime calcium intake •Vitamin D deficiency •Use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids and anticonvulsants •Presence of certain chronic medical conditions •Low testosterone levels in men •An inactive lifestyle •Current cigarette smoking •Excessive use of alcohol "While the diagnosis of osteoporosis has increased in women, so have the treatment options," he said. "Today, we are armed with the tools to help manage the disease. Talk to your doctor no matter how old you are about your bone health."

********** Published: February 26, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 45