Osteoporosis is a disease that affects bones. It’s normal for your bones to get thinner and weaker as you get older. But when your bones become so thin and weak that they’re at risk of breaking, this is called osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is called the ‘silent thief’ because most people often don’t know they have it until they break a bone (have a fracture). A bone fracture can:
- cause pain
- change the shape of your body (called a deformity)
- make it hard for you to walk or move your body well
- make it hard for you to keep living on your own
Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than all heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancers combined.
In Canada, at least 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 5 men over the age of 50 will break a bone related to osteoporosis.
What causes osteoporosis?
As we age, we lose bone tissue faster than we make it. This means our bones get thinner (less dense) and weaker. This usually happens when you make less of the hormones that help to keep your bones healthy (such as estrogen). Your risk of osteoporosis also depends on:
- your age, sex, and body type
- reaching menopause (causing your body to make less estrogen to keep your bones healthy)
- your family history and ethnicity
- your lifestyle
What can happen after a hip fracture related to osteoporosis?
Hip fractures related to osteoporosis are a serious problem if you’re an older adult or have certain health issues. Some people may not be able to live on their own anymore and need extra care.
Without treatment after a hip fracture:
- 1 in 5 people will break another bone within 1 year
- 1 in 2 people will break another bone within 5 years
What can I do to lower my risk of breaking a bone?
To lower your risk of breaking of bone:
- get enough vitamin D
- add calcium to your diet
- be active every day
- don’t smoke
- talk to your healthcare professional about osteoporosis medicine
Osteoporosis medicine prevents or slows bone loss and lowers the risk of a fracture. There are different medicines to treat osteoporosis.
Some medicines work better for some people than others. And some have side effects that others don’t. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider to learn the benefits and risks of each medicine to help you decide which one is best for you.