How do we know whether our bones are healthy or not? We can’t see them like we can our skin, or listen to them like the heart or lungs. Osteoporosis is rightly called the silent disease. It is a bone disease that is impossible to feel. It causes the body to lose too much bone mass, and often, it doesn’t replace what has been lost.
Watch out for these silent signs so that you can take action before its too late.
Did you just get shorter?
Are your usually well fitting trousers suddenly spilling over on top of your shoes? Does that shirt that usually ends at your waist suddenly now all the way down over your hips? When a person has osteoporosis, the bones in the spine can easily collapse on each other, and as a result, you could lose more than an inch of height. Gauge your height loss based on your height in your twenties as a guide. For women, a height loss of one and a half inches is cause for concern. Older men who are now shorter by two inches than they were in their twenties, should see a doctor.
Oops, did that tooth fall out?
Our teeth are connected to the jaw bone and if the jaw is losing bone, your gums will begin to recede causing teeth to fall out. While losing teeth can be a symptom of osteoporosis, it’s not always a definitive sign. If you are losing teeth, talk with your doctor and order a bone density test to determine whether or not osteoporosis is causing your teeth to fall out.
When the bones in the spine can’t support the body’s weight, they will curve over, causing what is called a dowager’s hump. This results in the person having bad posture even when they are not slouching. If the hump is pronounced and you are having constant backaches for no apparent reason, it is a telltale sign that the bones in the spine are weak.
A family member has osteoporosis
If someone in your immediate family has osteoporosis, then you may be predisposed to the disease. If you know your immediate family has a history of osteoporosis, it is recommended that you get a bone density screening done as early as possible to detect early signs of the disease. Your doctor may recommend dietary changes as well as medication, calcium supplements, and exercise regimens.
Fractures from minor injuries
If you tripped on the footpath and ended up with a fracture, there’s a good chance your bones are weak. Only people with osteoporosis could likely fracture a bone by falling from standing height.
By knowing your risk factors and getting early screenings and diagnosis, you will be taking important steps toward managing your osteoporosis risk, and if necessary, getting early treatment.
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