Signs of osteoporosis

Don't ignore the warning signs of osteoporosis

By Donna Fleming

Osteoporosis can be devastating, causing problems such as broken bones and a hunched-over spine. Here’s how to know if you are at risk of the disease, that results in 56% of Kiwi women over 60 suffering a fracture.

Lean times

If your bones are small and thin to start with, they can’t afford to lose much mass before they risk fracturing easily. Big-boned women can still get osteoporosis, but people with delicate frames are more likely to develop the condition at a younger age.

Trick or treatment

Corticosteroids, used to treat autoimmune conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease, can cause calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients to be leached from your bones, weakening them. Taking SSRI antidepressants, or hormones to treat a thyroid condition, is also linked to bone loss.

Coeliac sufferers

Having coeliac disease can make it harder for your body to absorb important nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, which can lead to bone thinning.

Smoke signals

Experts don’t quite understand why, but smokers have a greater chance of getting osteoporosis.

Still life

Weight-bearing exercise is important to build strong bones. If you rarely exercise, you’ve got a greater chance of having thinning bones.

Spirited away

Alcohol can leach minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, from your bones, and the more you drink, the more you’re likely to lose. There’s also thought to be a link between carbonated soft drinks and osteoporosis, possibly due to the phosphoric acid found in fizzy liquids.

Dairy free

If you can’t drink milk or eat dairy products because you’re lactose intolerant, you can be missing out on valuable calcium. Make sure you eat plenty of dark, leafy green veges or take supplements.

Weight woes

Having an eating disorder, such as anorexia, can lead to a very low body weight, which lowers hormone levels. Low levels of oestrogen can interfere with bone building.

Period drama

Irregular periods can be a sign of low oestrogen, which can contribute to loss of bone mass.

Age & ethnicity

If you’re over 50, female and Pakeha or Asian, your risk of low bone density is high.

It’s all relative

If a close family member has had a dowager’s hump, frequently broken bones or shrunk in height, they’re likely to have had osteoporosis, which increases your chances of getting it.

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