I have worked in the field of osteoporosis for over 15 years and in that time I have spoken to many thousands of people about the devastating impact fractures have on their lives.
Osteoporosis affects many of us - in fact, one in two women over 50 will have a break as a result of poor bone health, yet so often it goes undiagnosed for too long and people don't get the treatment they need. As new research from the National Osteoporosis Society shows, a fifth of women aren't diagnosed until after three or more bones have been fractured.
More often than not, people don't even think to consider themselves as being at risk of osteoporosis. Someone will break a bone, go to A&E, be put in plaster and recover, completely unaware that their broken bone could be due to osteoporosis. This is why I'm supporting the National Osteoporosis Society's STOP AT ONE campaign to raise awareness of bone health and tackle the problem of fractures in the over 50s.
As I work on the charity's helpline, I speak to people every day who are struggling to come to terms with a diagnosis of osteoporosis. They are hungry for information about the condition as time with their doctor is often very limited. I talk them through the lifestyle changes that they can make to improve their bone health, as well as information about the drug treatments that the doctor may have prescribed. Many people are aware of osteoporosis but unsure what steps to take. There are some questions that you can ask yourself, to find out if you could be at risk:
• Has anyone in your family ever been diagnosed with osteoporosis?
• Have you ever broken a bone after a minor bump or fall?
• Are you female and aged over 50?
• Do you drink more than 3 units of alcohol each day?
• Do you miss out on summer sunlight (through being housebound, avoiding the sun, always covering your skin or wearing sunscreen?)
• Do you miss out on doing at least 30 minutes of activity five times a week?
If you answered yes to more than one of any of these questions, then you may be at risk of developing osteoporosis and the fractures it causes, and should find out more either by visiting the National Osteoporosis Society's website or by speaking to your GP.
I'm always keen to remind people that osteoporosis can be treated and there are simple things you can do to help keep your bones healthy, whatever your age. I regularly speak to people who, despite a diagnosis of osteoporosis, are leading happy pain free lives. Their experience shows that there are simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of the painful fractures that are so often associated with the condition.
I feel honoured, everyday, to speak to such amazing people and I am proud to feel that the service we offer is able to allay some of their fears and concerns and make life that little bit better.
Find out more - www.nos.org.uk/stopatone