According to the Osteoporosis Society of Singapore, the risk of osteoporosis amongst Singaporeans is on the rise. “Osteoporosis is a common problem which is likely to increase in the years to come because of a rapidly aging population. The population in Singapore is going to become more aged in the next twenty years and osteoporosis will become an even more significant problem in future.”
The Society describes osteoporosis as “ ‘porous bones’. Porous bones are also brittle bones which can break even after minor trauma. Sites commonly affected are the lower forearm near the wrist, the spine and the hip.”
The Health Promotion Board defines osteoporosis as “a bone condition characterized by low bone mass or decreased bone strength.”
Over the course of your lifetime, your body forms new bone and loses old bone. Throughout childhood and into your teenage years, new bone is constantly replacing old bone as it is lost. By age 20, your bones have reached their maximum density. As you age, this process reverses. New bone formation cannot keep up with old bone loss. This leads to bone thinning and weakness and can cause fractures.
The side effects of osteoporosis are rarely visible. Without proper awareness and screening, this silent disease can cause serious damage to your skeletal system, all while you are unaware.
Both men and women can suffer from osteoporosis, although it is much more common in women. In the 5-7 years after menopause, women can lose up to 20% of their bone mass. After a significant amount of bone has been lost, muscle or bone pain in the lower back might appear. Loss of height due to compression fractures in the spine can also occur.
Hip and spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis are especially worrisome. They often lead to hospitalization or death. Amongst Singaporean women over the age of 50, hip fractures increased 5 times over the last 30 years. Hip fractures in Singaporean men of similar age have increased 1.5 times. One in every five people who suffer a hip fracture caused by osteoporosis die within a year.
Asian women can use the Osteoporosis Self-assessment Tool to find out their risk for osteoporosis. This chart compares age and weight to establish osteoporosis risk. Your doctor can also schedule a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test. This test records the amount of bone mineral you have within your bone. The data provided by the BMD is then analyzed, and your risk of osteoporosis is assessed. Local hospitals throughout Singapore are equipped to provide BMD screening.
Calcium intake and weight-bearing exercise both take a significant role in the health of your bones.
-Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Your body loses calcium through sweat, hair and nail growth, and waste elimination. This calcium must be replaced. The best way for you to absorb calcium is through your diet. However, your doctor may recommend a calcium supplement with vitamin D if your diet does not provide adequate amounts of calcium.
-Weight-bearing exercise also helps your body build and maintain strong bones. Regularly practicing activities like aerobics, jogging, hiking, dancing, and Tai Chi can improve your bone health and prevent fractures. Be sure that the exercise you choose is appropriate for your age and health. Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Osteoporosis is a disease that can easily be prevented. Know your risk and take steps to build and maintain the health of your bones.
SOURCES: https://www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/health-article/7468; https://www.osteoporosissoc.org.sg/#!vstc1=what-is-osteo; Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net