With Singapore’s ageing population, there are increasingly more people suffering from osteoporosis. Dr Kevin Lee was invited on Love 97.2FM to raise public awareness on osteoporosis, its causes, treatment and prevention.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition where the bone gets brittle and porous. This leads to high risk of fractures even at the slightest impact, similar to how an egg easily cracks.
Who is at risk?
Osteoporosis commonly occurs amongst older persons, especially for older women after their menopause. This often creates a problem of osteoporotic wrist fractures or hip fractures in the elderly. Fair-skinned Caucasians and Asians are at a higher risk than other women. Other risk factors include: smokers, frequent alcohol drinkers, patients on long-term steroid medications, patients with cancer, rheumatism or thyroidism.
Women who experiences early menopause are at particularly high risk of early osteoporosis and should be more alert.
What are the symptoms?
Osteoporosis is also known as the silent killer. It typically has no significant symptom. Some women might notice that they start growing shorter after menopause, which is a likely sign of osteoporosis. However, many people only discover that they have the condition when they get a fracture after a fall. Common fracture areas are the wrist, hip and spine.
How can I prevent osteoporosis?
Prevention starts at younger ages. You should ensure that you have sufficient intake of Calcium and Vitamin D by doing the following:
- Take regular servings of foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, soya bean and ikan bilis
- Take Calcium and Vitamin D supplements if you are not taking enough of the above foods
- Do weight-bearing exercises like walking, running and tai chi
- Soak in the sun for 30 mins every day (when the UV is not too intense)
Dr Lee recommends that women from the age of 45 onwards should start to pay more attention to their bone health. They should go for a Bone Densitometry (DEXA) and seek early treatment if diagnosed with the condition.
What are the treatment?
The type of medication used would depend on your condition and the doctor’s advice. Patients would also usually be asked to increase their intake of Calcium and Vitamin D intake, and do appropriate exercises. It is important to seek early treatment as the recovery is a long and challenging process if your condition is already severe.