Osteoporosis is a bone disease where parts of the bone become weak and prone to fracture. This condition is more common in seniors, but can affect men and women of all ages.
Osteoporosis is responsible for a large number of bone fractures that occur in seniors, as the weakened bones can no longer support their body weight.
The Rexall website says that at least 2 million Canadians have osteoporosis. While men also develop osteoporosis, this condition is particularly common among women who have reached menopause. The increased risk at menopause reflects the fact that the hormone estrogen, a key factor in maintaining bone strength in women, is no longer produced by the ovaries after menopause.
Because women have 30 per cent less bone mass than men, women are particularly prone to osteoporosis as they age. However, after reaching 65 to 70 years of age, men and women lose bone at about the same rate. Eating enough foods rich in calcium and vitamin D and participating in weight-bearing exercises are important steps in preventing osteoporosis.
Bone is made up mostly of minerals such as calcium. The bones in our bodies are constantly being broken down and replaced with new bones. This bone-building cycle takes about 100 days and is influenced by the hormones produced in our bodies (such as estrogen in women) as well as by the levels of calcium and vitamin D. Osteoporosis occurs when bone tissue and minerals are lost faster than the bone is replaced.
Osteoporosis itself does not usually cause noticeable symptoms. However, weakened bones that are no longer able to support body weight can break even under slight pressure. Such fractures most commonly occur in the hipbones, wrists, or spine. Hip fractures are more frequent in people over the age of 75 years. Another symptom caused by osteoporosis is chronic back pain.
The key steps for diagnosing osteoporosis involve assessing your risk for fracture and evaluating your bone density. To that end the Barriere IDA Pharmacy will be holding an Osteoporosis Clinic from Feb. 23 to 27. Attend the clinic for a scan of your wrist using a peripheral device that measures bone density in the wrist. You will also learn how to keep your bones healthy, what you should know about osteoporosis, and how much calcium you need.
Appointments of 20 minutes in length are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at a cost of $20 per person. Call Barriere IDA (at 250-672-9791 ext. 1) to make an appointment, or drop by the pharmacy.