Living with osteoporosis

    • Brief

    • Osteoporosis means ‘brittle bones’. When you suffer from osteoporosis your bones can break easily when you fall. It does not have a known cause. It occurs when your body loses bone tissue faster than it replaces it. The most commonly affected parts of the body are the hips, wrists and spine. It is a condition that can be life-threatening if there are complications.

      Age and gender (being a woman) are unchangeable factors that put you at risk of osteoporosis.

    • When you get the diagnosis

    • Osteoporosis occurs more in older people, but younger adults can also be affected. Working with your healthcare provider, you can keep an active lifestyle, reduce excessive loss of bone strength and improve your self-image.

      Although osteoporosis cannot be cured, but it can be treated so as to slow down progression and avoid complications.

    • Work and your health

    • As a person living with osteoporosis, you should note that some tasks increase your risk of bone fractures and your should avoid them. If you work in carpentry, bricklaying or construction site work try to request work in an area where your health risk will be reduced. You should ask for appropriate protective clothing and shoes when switching jobs may not be possible.

      In some instances, you may require extended periods off work to recover from broken bones. You may qualify for financial cover for time off work under the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (see their website to confirm). Living with osteoporosis requires extra care when carrying out simple tasks around the home, like lifting a heavy object or bending down.

    • Diet and nutrition

    • If you eat a balanced diet, with lots of milk (full cream or low fat), yoghurt, butter, custard, fish, fruits and green leafy vegetables, you will get the nutrients that you need every day. Eat healthy meals rich in calcium, for example vegetables like okro.

      If your diet may not be rich enough to provide all these nutrients, take supplements to ensure that you get your daily requirements. Take calcium supplements daily as this strengthen your bones.

      Expose yourself to the early morning sun for 15 minutes each day. Sunlight stimulates your body to produce vitamin D, which helps to form calcium for your bones.

    • Physical activity

    • Engage in exercises to increase your balance and coordination. An example of a balance exercise is to stand straight, raise one of your legs to a 90-degree angle while spreading your arms out wide. Do this with each leg . You also might try walking along a straight line.

      Some exercises like running or skipping can be counter-productive as they increase your risks of falls. Speak to your healthcare provider about the right exercises for you.

    • Support from family and community

    • You will need support from people around you when you have osteoporosis.  As an elderly person, you may need a caregiver that supports you with hospital visits and medical check-ups. For children with osteoporosis, which is rare, caregivers will constantly have to make sure that they avoid falls.

    • Health insurance and financial impact

    • Most people with osteoporosis will require long term care using medicines and diet to support their bone health. The care is usually affordable but can become expensive in severe conditions of osteoporosis, where you have to see a special healthcare provider. If you have health insurance, check with your healthcare provider what treatments are covered.

    • Kulawa cares

    • If you have had broken bones multiple times before, there is a chance that your are suffering from osteoporosis. Visit your healthcare provider for diagnosis. When diagnosed early, you are able to live fruitfully as long as you take you follow your healthcare provider's advice, do your exercises and eat a healthy diet.