During menopause, your estrogen hormone level drops, and so does your bone density. Some women sustain bone loss at a more rapid rate than others. This bone loss results in osteoporosis, which places you at a high risk of sustaining fractures. Pay attention to your body and watch for these signs of bone loss so that you can address them to your physician as early as possible.
Jaws of Evidence
Did you know that your dentist could be the first of your doctors to detect your bone loss? That's because periodontal disease can progress to bone loss. Dental radiographs don't just evaluate your teeth. They also reveal bone loss in your jaw around the root of each of your teeth. Once your jaw is affected by bone loss, your teeth lose that base to anchor into, and tooth loss follows. What if you wear dentures? If you or your dentist is finding that they no longer fit as securely as they did when you first got them, that can be a sign of bone loss in your jaws, and you need to alert your daily physician to your dentist's findings.
Are You Standing Tall?
Your vertebral column has two important jobs. It provides protection for your spinal cord, and it supports the length of your torso. This support keeps you standing straight and tall. Your vertebral column, better known as your backbone, is made up of a column of bones that are called vertebrae. If your height has decreased, that means that your vertebrae have sustained bone loss and that they are collapsing. This can cause backaches. You can observe other signs of bone loss in your vertebrae by studying your posture in front of a full-length mirror. Signs to look for include the following:
- Curvature of your backbone
- Stooped or hunched back
- Sloped shoulders
- Protruding abdomen
When your posture is compromised, so is your balance and coordination, and this predisposes you to accidental falls. Falling is especially hazardous if your have bone loss because your brittle bones are much more susceptible to fractures.
It's Not All About a Fall
Bone loss has already begun if you notice any of the aforementioned signs. If you ignore those signs and don't bring them to your primary care physician's attention, you are setting yourself up for potential fractures that could leave you permanently impaired. Fractures can occur as a result of a heavy object falling or being dropped on you, of lifting something that you may not think is so heavy, of bending or twisting awkwardly to grab something that is out of reach or of slipping on one step while climbing the stairs. Hip, vertebral or wrist fractures are less likely to heal as effectively as they would have during your young adult years. Such fractures that fail to heal properly can put an end to your ability to live an independent lifestyle. This can leave you coping with emotional stress and depression on top of physical impairment.
Take Charge of Your Bone Health
A primary care doctor may recommend a bone density screening test. This diagnostic imaging test evaluates your bone density, enabling your doctor to recommend the best options for treatment and supplementation. Supplementation for bone health includes calcium and vitamin D. Treatments for osteoporosis may include prescription drugs to reduce the severity of your bone loss. Some things that you can do to help preserve bone strength, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, include the following:
- Take calcium and vitamin D supplements.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes leafy greens, plenty of vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean proteins and bone broth.
- Limit your intake of alcohol, coffee and cola.
- Don't smoke.
- Engage in muscle strengthening and weight-bearing exercises.
If you are starting to notice signs of bone loss, don't ignore them. Alert your family physician to these signs so that you can work together to lower your risk of debilitating fractures. You still have your golden years ahead of you. Make them count by taking care of your bones so they can carry you comfortably though all of your enjoyed activities.