Osteoporosis is often caused by changes in hormones along with a lack of calcium and vitamin D. Going through menopause can significantly increase your risk of the bone disease because estrogen—which protects bones—decreases, leaving bones far more vulnerable. Unfortunately, the earlier you experience menopause, the earlier your bones can start to deteriorate, giving you many more years of weak bones and a higher risk of fractures. You will need to be extra careful during this time to not cause any injury.
Rheumatologist Dr. Taher Mahmud explained, “The majority of the population is probably deficient in vitamin D which you can really only get through supplements or being exposed to the sun. This means certain groups such as women and those who work indoors will be more vulnerable.”
Unlike screening for other conditions like vision loss or oral health problems, it’s far more rare to have your bones tested unless there is a clear problem, such as a fracture.
As mentioned, even if the signs and symptoms of osteoporosis aren’t clear, there is an early sign that may prompt you to have your bones checked. It has to do with your height or lack thereof.
Although it is normal to lose some height as you age, losing over two centimeters over the course of a year or over six centimeters since you were younger is not. This loss in height could actually be a sign of a spinal fracture, which results from weak bones caused by osteoporosis.
If you’re over the age of 50, it’s important you start monitoring your height and report to your doctor any changes you notice.
Dr. Mahmud added, “Bones are living organisms too and it’s crucial that we listen to our bodies, especially as we age, and get regular checkups. There is a range of steps we can take to ensure we keep our bones healthy, from staying active to ensuring we have key nutrients in our diets, including calcium and vitamin D.”
If you suspect you have osteoporosis, it’s important you have your bones looked at to confirm diagnosis. Furthermore, leading a healthy lifestyle can help maintain bone strength. There are treatments available that your doctor can recommend, but prevention is essential to avoid serious complications.