October 20th marks World Osteoporosis Day, a day to think about your bone health and the bone health of those around you, which is timely considering over 60% of Australians currently suffer from low bone mineral density. Osteoporosis, which affects over 1 million Australians, is a condition in which bones become thinner and more fragile, making them more likely to break (fracture) easily, even as a result of a minor fall, a bump or sneeze. Fractures caused by osteoporosis can be life threatening and can cause significant ongoing pain and long-term disability. In fact, in Australia alone, there is one osteoporosis-related fracture every 3.5 minutes, which equates to 395 fractures per day.

There are a number of risk factors, including a family history, gender (more common in women), early menopause, low physical activity levels, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, low calcium intake, low vitamin D levels, weight (thin body build or excessive weight), thyroid conditions, lower hormone levels,  long-term use of some medications such as corticosteroids and antidepressants, some chronic diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, chronic liver or kidney diseases) and malabsorption conditions such as coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

Nicole Saliba, an Accredited Practising Dietitian from Eatsense in West Gosford, is urging anyone with risk factors for osteoporosis to be investigated by their doctor. Anyone over 50 who experiences a broken bone from a minor bump or fall should be investigated for osteoporosis. Nicole wants to break the preconception that osteoporosis is just an “old lady disease”. In fact almost a quarter of all people with osteoporosis are men, and men and women in their 50’s have recently been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a silent disease and often remains undiagnosed, even when a fracture has occurred. The good news however is that it can be prevented, diagnosed and managed if action is taken early. Regular exercise, consuming enough bone-healthy nutrients, avoiding negative lifestyle habits, identifying your risk factors, getting a non-invasive and pain-free bone density scan, and taking osteoporosis medication if prescribed, are key steps for prevention and treatment.

Riverside Bodyscan, a local business located within the Reliance GP Superclinic at West Gosford, conducts bone density scans— the gold-standard for measuring bone density and diagnosing osteopenia and osteoporosis. This simple scan measures the density of your bones— usually at the hip and spine— takes approximately 10-15 minutes.

For more information, call 02 4323 9200 or consult your General Practitioner.