World Osteoporosis Day

Osteoporosis is a common disease that affects around 1.2 million Australians. Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, causing the bones to become brittle. This leads to a higher risk of bone breakage than a normal bone.

Osteoporosis is thought of as a ‘silent disease’, as it rarely shows symptoms before the brittleness of the bones leads to a fracture. As the bones lose density and strength, a fracture – partial or complete break of the bone – can be caused by a minor bump or fall.

Who is at risk?

2019’s World Osteoporosis Day is focused on men making bone health a priority – “Real men build their strength from within“. Osteoporosis is often thought to be a women’s disease, as women are at a higher risk after menopause. When estrogen levels decrease, the bones lose calcium and minerals at an elevated rate. As testosterone levels lower more gradually, the deterioration of men’s bones may happen at a slower pace. However, there are many factors that can lead to the development of osteoporosis. These include:

  • Family history – If family members have a history of osteoporosis or broken a bone from a minor fall or bump, these can be indicators of low bone density.
  • Medical history – Low hormone levels, some chronic diseases and some medicines for breast and prostate cancer can increase your risk of osteoporosis.
  • Vitamin D and calcium levels – Both vitamin D and calcium are essential for bone health, and low levels put you at risk.
  • Lifestyle factors – Low exercise levels, smoking history, extremely low or high weight and excessive alcohol intake all contribute to your risk of developing osteoporosis.

Detection

If you are over 50 and present with any of the osteoporosis risk factors, then it is recommended that you get a bone density scan. This is a simple scan that takes approximately 10-15 minutes. If you are concerned that you may be at risk of osteoporosis, book in with your GP for them to determine if you should be referred for a bone density scan.

Prevention

There are steps you can take to prevent osteoporosis. In addition to living a generally healthy lifestyle, there are 3 main approaches to take to lower your risk of osteoporosis:

  • Calcium – Victoria State Government’s Better Health Channel provides you with information on recommended calcium intake for different ages and life stages.
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D aids in the absorption and regulation of calcium, while also supporting growth and maintenance of the skeleton.
  • Exercise – To build and maintain bone strength, it is important to focus on the right kind of exercise. Weight-bearing exercise and progressive resistance training both work the muscles and bones sufficiently to increase bone strength.

To find the right exercise regime for your body, you can make an appointment to see Nikki, our exercise physiologist. She is available at our Hastings and Carrum clinics for personal and group classes, depending on your needs.

 

Adding Activity to Your Workday

For those of us working at a desk all day, you often find the end of the day comes with a stiff back and low energy. Better Health Victoria has called sitting “the new smoking”. This is based on the many potentials damages prolonged sitting can do to your body. These damages include the weakening of muscles, weight gain, hip and back problems due to poor posture, increased risk of heart disease and more.

Here are some ways to incorporate a little more activity into your workday.

Use your lunch break to take a brisk walk

Take the time scheduled for your break to enjoy the outdoors. If you work close to a park, you could take your packed lunch there to appreciate the outdoors. Should your workplace not be near anywhere you can sit, simply eat your lunch at work then take an energetic stroll afterwards while you listen to some music, or just enjoy your own thoughts. Taking this time out has also been proven to improve mood and productivity in the workplace. The Scandinavian journal of medicine and science in sports performed a study of regular 30 minute walks which found notable improvements in employees’ workplace happiness.

Perform exercises at your desk

These are all exercises that can be completed while seated at your desk:

 

You can also use your desk chair to do:

 

Catch public transportation or cycle

By catching public transportation or riding a bike to and from work, you ensure that your workday begins and ends with a little activity.

You can use the PTV app or website to plan your journey and tramTRACKER as a means of tracking exactly when your next tram is arriving, in live time.

 

Wear an activity tracker

Most activity-tracking watches and devices have reminders in place to prompt activity after long periods of the wearer remaining sedentary. These reminders can be your cue to take a walk around the office or to refill your water bottle. If you work in a private space, take a moment to do some star jumps or burpees to get the blood flowing again.

 

Try a standing desk

If your workplace allows it, consider adding an adjustable standing desk to your work station. Standing desks can lower your risk of weight gain, obesity and heart disease while also decreasing back pain.

By attaching an adjustable standing desk, you have the option of lowering it when exhausted. Having the flexibility to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the workday will also change up your mindset, which can aid productivity.

Click here to see Officeworks’ range of standing desks.

 

 

Asthma Awareness

Spring is the season for new flowers, animals being born and, unfortunately, a rise in asthma risk. Asthma Australia uses the beginning of September as the time to draw awareness to the increased risk to asthma sufferers. 1 out of every 9 Australians suffers from asthma and 80% of those also deal with the associated problems that come from hay fever. This year Asthma Australia’s theme is ‘Asthma in Disguise’.

Thunderstorm Asthma

Thunderstorm asthma is the phenomenon that occurs during grass pollen season, which in Victoria is typically from October to the end of December. Asthma Australia advises that this time of year brings about more frequent reactions of asthma and hay fever. The storms that happen over spring and summer cause winds to carry the pollen seeds over long distances and become concentrated in the wind just before a thunderstorm. These smaller concentrated particles can get further into airways than regular pollen and thus trigger more cases of hay fever and asthma.

How to Protect Yourself

The first step to take if you are unsure how to deal with asthma is to book in with your GP to make an Asthma Action Plan. This way you can work with you GP to find the best way to handle your asthma and hay fever problems year round.

Once you are aware of your sensitivity to increased pollen, whether it be due to asthma, hay fever or a combination of the two, the next step is to be aware of the pollen count before you plan your daily activities. AusPollen is an app and website that has experts gathering information on pollen counts to forecast the daily pollen risk for up to a week in advance in your area.

If you find yourself faced with a high pollen count day and your healthcare professional has advised you to be cautious of the risks this carries, you can take steps to avoid excessive exposure. Staying inside as much as possible, while keeping house and car windows closed can minimise pollen exposure. Avoid hanging clothing on outdoor clotheslines during these high-pollen periods, and instead hang indoors or use a clothes dryer. Recommend children who experience asthma or hay fever to take their school lunch breaks in the library, or other indoor options that are available. Always keep whatever prevention method your GP has recommended on hand during thunderstorm asthma season.

Asthma First Aid

If you are suffering from a severe asthma attack, the best course of action is to call 000.

If you are experiencing a mild to moderate asthma attack, it is important that you follow the 4 Asthma First Aid steps.

1 – Sit the person upright.

2 – Give 4 separate puffs of blue-grey reliever puffer.

3 – Wait 4 minutes.

4 – If symptoms have not improved, call 000 to tell the ambulance that there is an asthma attack.

To have constant access to these steps, download the Asthma App.

Extra Help

For those of you used to dealing with symptoms of hay fever and allergic rhinitis, you are used to the associated costs that come with care. Asthma Australia has combined a list of tips to assist with managing your symptoms while saving money.