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Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease affecting the bones. It starts as a silent disease. Bones become very brittle and break easily.

Osteoporosis occurs when bones do not contain enough calcium and minerals or the body does not make enough. This causes bones to look very porous and contain large holes.

The large holes indicate bone density is low and there is simply not enough mass. Bones with less density break more easily. Osteoporosis is more common in women.

In the beginning, there may be bone loss, but no pain or other physical symptoms. A person could have continuing bone loss over several years before finding out and over time the conditions becomes more serious. A hunched back is another common symptom of later-stage osteoporosis.

The following are some risk factors of osteoporosis:

  • Women are at a higher risk for osteoporosis than men and the risk factors increase after women go through menopause because estrogen levels decrease.
  • Having family history of the disease increases the risk.
  • Smoking and consuming alcohol can also increase the risk.

Excessive dieting can be harmful if not enough of calcium is consumed. Calcium makes up the major part of your bones and helps keep them healthy. Vitamin D enables your body to absorb calcium.

Knowing the risk factors and symptoms can greatly reduce one’s chance of getting this disease. Talk to your doctor about getting a bone density test.

Some doctors say women age 65 and men age 70 need to be tested. Some doctors think a test should be done at a much younger age.

The LifeSpan Center is located at 11021 E. County Road 800N, Charleston. The telephone number is 217-639-5150. The numbers for the programs are as follows: Coles County Telecare -- 217-639-5166; Family Care Giver Resource Center -- 217-639-5168 and Dial A Ride -- 217-639-5169 or 1-800-500-5505. See you at your LifeSpan Center.

Come join us each weekday at noon for “Lunch at LifeSpan.” Peace Meals are served Monday through Friday at a suggested donation of $3.50. To register, reserve a lunch or learn more, contact Peace Meal at 217-348-1800.

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