Having healthy bones is a very important parameter of one’s health, as healthy bones are a reflection of health of not just the bones but of the whole person.
The reason for that is bones act as a reservoir for certain important elements of the body like calcium & phosphorus and proteins. Bone health is dependent of a lot of factors such as diet, exercise, harmone levels, sun exposure, status of organs such as kidneys and liver, habits such as drinking alcohol, general well being and nutrition of a person. Thus, problems with any of these factors could affect bone health and thereby the health of the whole individual.
Osteoporosis is a condition where the general bone strength is lower than expected. Expected changes happen in the body for everyone as the bone strength increases during and just after puberty and decreases as we get older. But, bone strength can decrease more than expected in some individuals, especially after events like the menopause. Osteomalacia refers to decreased calcium in the bone in adults. The childhood equivalent of this condition is called rickects. There are many causes for osteomalacia but the most common cause is low levels of vitamin D due to inadequate sunlight exposure. If left untreated, these conditions can give rise to weaker bones, leading to increased risk of developing fractures. Fractures of major bones like the femur in the elderly can sometimes be very difficult to treat and often need surgery.
So, it is important to have healthy bones. This can be achieved by taking a healthy calcium rich diet, undertaking adequate exercise and sunlight exposure everyday, avoiding drinking alcohol and other problems as mentioned above. It can also be important to undergo a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test once in a while, especially in the more vulnerable population such as the elderly and the women after menopause. This will give us a T score and sometimes a Z score value which are used to categorise patient’s bone density as normal, osteopenia and osteoporosis. Sometimes a vitamin D levels test in blood and other harmone assessments might also be necessary. These can lead on to necessary treatments to increase bone density, thereby reducing the risk of developing fractures.
– Dr S S Kumar
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