May is National Osteoporosis Month and the perfect time to evaluate your bone health. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
“Osteoporosis thins and weakens bones, making them so fragile you can break one just by lifting a bag of groceries or hugging a child,” said Maureen Hillary, R.N., Chief Nursing Officer at Sparrow Eaton Hospital. “Often referred to as ‘brittle bones’ – a bone with osteoporosis has large holes where it looks like pieces are missing. Symptoms may not show up until the bone fractures.” Most fractures occur in the wrists, hips and spine.
Hillary said eating calcium-rich foods and taking calcium supplements while staying away from calcium-blocking foods, such as caffeine and carbonated beverages, are vital to bone health. It is also important to avoid nicotine and limit alcohol consumption.
Other suggestions from the National Osteoporosis Foundation to improve bone health include:
- Get enough daily calcium and Vitamin D.
- Do weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle – eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoid processed and salty foods.
- Improve balance and prevent falls – learn posture exercises, do balance training, and have hearing and vision checked annually.
- Talk to your doctor about your bone health – ask if you need a bone density test.
A bone density screening measures bone mass. Insurance providers will cover the test every other year after the age of 50 when it is ordered by a physician. Sparrow Eaton Hospital does bone density screenings as part of the comprehensive women’s health services offered in its Breast Care Center. An appointment can be scheduled by calling 517-541-5805.