Women are more at risk of weak or brittle bones than men, especially after middle age, as hormonal changes during menopause can lead to bone loss. Weak bones could lead to decreased mobility, fractures and poor dental health and before it’s too late, adequate calcium and Vitamin D must be included in diet to prevent this. Being physically active and involving oneself in activities like running, cycling and walking can also help deterioration of bone health as one grows old. Osteoporosis usually leads to brittle bones and even a mild stress can cause fracture. Women must be vigilant for any sign of early bone loss and should regularly screen themselves for bone density after the age of 60. Apart from diet and nutrition, there are certain therapies that can help prevent low bone density in elderly women. (Also read: 6 important lifestyle changes for women to prevent osteoporosis, bone loss)
“There are several factors that can cause low bone density in women. Some of the most common causes include hormonal changes in women undergoing menopause as they experience a decrease in estrogen levels, age, and genetics as a woman may have a family history of low bone density,” says Dr. Siddhart Yadav, Consultant Orthopedic and Joint Replacement Surgeon at Apollo Hospitals Navi Mumbai.
CAUSES OF LOW BONE DENSITY IN WOMEN
Here are other factors as per Dr Yadav:
Poor nutrition: A diet lacking in calcium and vitamin D can contribute to low bone density.
Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical activity can lead to bone loss.
Certain medications: Long-term use of certain medications such as glucocorticoids, anticonvulsants, and some cancer treatments can lead to low bone density.
Certain medical conditions: Conditions such as hyperthyroidism, malabsorption syndromes, and chronic kidney disease can contribute to low bone density.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF LOW BONE DENSITY IN WOMEN
It is important to notice signs of deteriorating bone health and one should not ignore the below-mentioned symptoms of low bone density in any of their elderly family members.
Low bone density where bones become weak and brittle often develops slowly over time and may not cause any symptoms in the early stages. However, as the condition progresses, the following signs and symptoms may become evident, says Dr Yadav.
Fractures: Low bone density makes bones weak and brittle, making them more susceptible to fractures. Fractures can occur in the spine, wrist, hip, or other bones in the body.
Back pain: Low bone density-related fractures in the spine can cause severe back pain, which may be constant or intermittent.
Loss of height: The compression fractures in the spine caused by low bone density can lead to a gradual loss of height.
Stooped posture: As a result of multiple compression fractures in the spine, people with low bone density may develop a hunched or stooped posture.
Weaker grip strength: Low bone density can weaken the bones in the wrist, which can lead to weaker grip strength.
Tooth loss: The bone loss associated with low bone density can also affect the jawbone, which can cause tooth loss.
Decreased mobility: Fractures and other complications of low bone density can lead to decreased mobility and increased risk of falls.
“It’s important to note that low bone density often goes unnoticed until a fracture occurs. Therefore, if you are at risk of developing low bone density, it’s important to talk to your doctor about prevention and early detection strategies,” says the expert.
HOW TO PREVENT BONE LOSS
There are several ways to prevent low bone density, as per Dr Yadav and this includes adequate calcium and Vitamin D intake.
“Calcium is essential for bone health. Adequate calcium intake is necessary to help build and maintain strong bones. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and fortified foods. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Exposure to sunlight, fortified foods, and supplements can help ensure adequate vitamin D levels. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, running, and weightlifting can help build and maintain bone health,” says Dr Yadav.
TREATMENT FOR BONE LOSS
Dr Yadav shares some tips for preventing low bone density in women:
– Get enough calcium and vitamin D: Calcium and vitamin D are essential nutrients for healthy bones. Women should aim to consume 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium and 600-800 IU of vitamin D daily.
– Engage in weight-bearing exercises: Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, hiking, dancing, and strength training, can help improve bone density.
– Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to bone loss, so it’s important to avoid or limit these habits.
– Consider hormone replacement therapy: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help prevent low bone density in women who have gone through menopause. However, HRT comes with its own set of risks and benefits, so it’s important to discuss the pros and cons with a healthcare provider.
– Get regular bone density screenings: Women over the age of 65, or those with other risk factors for low bone density, should get regular bone density screenings to monitor bone health and detect any signs of bone loss early on.
– Take prescribed medications as directed: In some cases, medications such as bisphosphonates, hormone therapy, and other bone-strengthening drugs may be prescribed to prevent or treat low bone density. It’s important to take these medications as directed and follow up with a healthcare provider regularly.