I am 25 years old, and I have Osteopenia, a suspected precurser to Osteoperosis. Or so says my last bone density scan. I also have Crohn’s Disease (initial flare leading to diagnosis, May 2005), Celiac Disease (diagnosis May 2009, but possible from birth), and Rheumatoid Arthritis (tested positive Summer 2008). These all among other complications that have popped up the past few years, such as an acute attack of Pancreatitis.
One major problem with gastrointestinal auto-immune diseases is malabsorption, especially so during active flares. This can lead to a number of problems throughout the body, not just the intestines. Diet controls whether or not every part of your body works correctly. You need Vitamin D in order to absorb Calcium, which is paramount in building bone mass. As I have been researching my own information, it seems that ‘magic’ median age is 30 when the body stops building bone. Until then it is important to take in as much Calcium, Vitamin D, and exercise as you can. If you are the parent of a child, these are crucial bone building years. The average age to start bone density scans is 65, but by that time many of us at high-risk already have bone loss, and could already be in the clutches of Osteoperosis (not just women). You do not want your child to grow up and find out, the way I did, that they already have bone density loss at a much younger age.
If you regularly take corticosteroids, and/or suffer from any auto-immune related conditions, I urge you to ask your doctor for a bone density scan. They use the first one as a marker for future scans, as each individual person’s bone mineral density varies. I had my first one 2 years ago, and again last Friday. Make sure you are getting adequate Vitamin D, along with Calcium supplements. This is a silent problem, many people find out too late when they start breaking and fracturing bones.
Start young, don’t wait! It’s imperitive that you build up as much bone density as you can, especially during times of remission with these diseases, to offset the natural bone loss as you age. My Maternal Grandfather lost 3 inches in height from bone loss while he took corticosteroids. He was fragile.
Let us help each other to live fuller lives, by passing on these bits of information from our own experiences. What we do now directly affects what we can do later. I love what Dave Ramsey says, it pertains to money but it is relevant, I think, for many other areas in our lives. “Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else.” Take care of yourself now, so later you increase your chance to have a better quality of life. Don’t just accept the progressive destruction as inevitable. Do something about it! I am on prescription strength Calcium and Vitamin D supplements, and will be starting a regular exercise routine focused on resistence. That stress during exercising with weights also helps to build muscle. Make that a regular part of your routine.
In closing, do your homework. Research what you can on legitimate websites, and talk to your doctors. Be prepared.