Modern science has shown asthma is “more than just a lung disease.” It has now been linked with the immune system, mind, stomach, nose, eyes, and skin. The latest evidence suggests it may even be linked with bone loss.
Both reuters.com and foxnews.com reported on a study where researchers studied the medical records of over 7,000 adults in Seoul, Korea. They concluded that those with “hyperactive airways” were at an increased risk for bone loss and bone fractures.
The term “hyperactive airways” is a technical term for asthma. It means that a person has chronically inflamed air passages that are hypersensitive, or overreactive, to certain triggers around them. Asthma triggers include things such as dust mites, mold, pollen, pollution, cockroach urine, strong smells, and smoke.
At the present time, the experts do not know why asthmatics are at an increased risk for bone loss. They also do not know why asthma might cause bone loss, although there are theories.
1. Inhaled corticosteroids: Medicines such as Flovent, Qvar, Pulmicort, Advair and Symbicort are used to treat the underlying inflammation in order to control and prevent asthma. While systemic steroids were linked to bone loss as far back as 1983, the link between inhaled steroids and bone loss remains unknown.
2. Bone loss: The researchers could not rule out that the bone loss did not come before the asthma. It may be possible the factors that contribute to bone loss may also contribute to the development of asthma.
3. Low vitamin D: Studies have already shown a possible link between asthma and vitamin D deficiency. This vitamin is supplied by the sun and diet, and is needed to absorb calcium. Theories here suggest that poor asthma control may result in less time outdoors, or a diet that does not include enough vitamin D.
4. Low activity levels: When an asthmatic isn’t breathing well, or fears that exertion will trigger an attack, this results in less physical activity. Less weight bearing activity can result in bone loss and weaker bones.
5. Increased anxiety: Studies have linked asthma with anxiety. People suffering with anxiety are at an increased risk of abusing alcohol. Likewise, some people believe that smoking might reduce anxiety. Both smoking and alcohol abuse have been linked with bone loss.
More research is needed on this topic. In the meantime, enough studies have linked asthma with bone loss to take this seriously. The Mayo Clinic lists the following things you can do to ensure proper bone health.
1. Include plenty of calcium in your diet: You should receive at least 1,000 mg of calcium every day. Foods to consider are broccoli, kale, sardines and soy products, such as tofu. You may also try calcium supplements.
2. Pay attention to vitamin D: You should ideally receive at least 600 iU every day, and 800 iU for those over 71. Sources include sunshine, and foods such as milk, cheese, fish, fish oils, egg yolks, and fortified foods like cereal. You may also try vitamin D supplements.
3. Include physical activity in your daily routine: Weight bearing exercises are essential to build healthy bones and slow down bone loss. For tips on how to exercise with asthma you can check out “14 Tips for Exercising with Asthma.”
4. Avoid inhaling cigarette smoke: While many believe smoking decreases anxiety, studies suggest quitting smoking reduces anxiety. Besides, smoking is a severe asthma trigger, and should be avoided by asthmatics at all costs anyway.
5. Avoid consuming more than 2 alcoholic beverages a day: Studies suggest “Long-term alcohol consumption can interfere with bone growth.” Besides, alcohol has also been linked with worsening asthma, so it should be avoided anyway.
The overriding theme here seems to suggest that asthmatics must pay special attention to their bodies in order to maintain good health, including their bones.
Published On: April 28, 2014