Sarcopenia affects 10% of all adults over 50 years of age. There are a variety of factors in play that attribute to this condition, which is why it is important to educate yourselves on what it is and how you can prevent your body from developing it.
What is Sarcopenia?
Translated to the “lack of flesh,” sarcopenia is a serious age-related condition where one’s muscle starts to degenerate. From birth to approximately 30 years of age, your muscles grow in size and strength. But past the 30-year mark, some of us start to lose muscle mass and strength more rapidly. Although there isn’t a specific amount of decrease in muscle mass that will diagnose sarcopenia, this condition can significantly impact one’s quality of life. It becomes extremely challenging to perform simple tasks over time like getting out of a chair and walking up the stairs. Sarcopenia can also lead to a higher risk of falls, fractures, and other severe injuries. In such cases, this increasing disability typically leads to a loss of independence and a need for long-term care.
Causes of Sarcopenia
Sarcopenia is caused by the imbalance between the signals for teardown known as “catabolism” and the signals for muscle cell growth known as “anabolism”. As the body ages, it becomes resistant to the normal growth signals, tipping the balance towards catabolism which results in muscle loss. Although age is one of the most common causes of this condition, it helps to understand there are other factors involved in triggering an imbalance between anabolism and catabolism.
- Living a sedentary lifestyle – The disuse of muscle ranks as one of the biggest triggers, especially if it is induced by immobilization or bed rest after an illness or injury.
- Unbalanced diet – Not consuming sufficient protein and calories are common issues that cause weight loss and consequently a diminished muscle mass.
- Inflammation – After an illness or injury, the inflammation sends signals to break down and rebuild damaged groups of cells in the body. However, long-term or chronic diseases can disrupt this process and cause an imbalance in the breakdown and healing, which results in muscle loss.
How to Tell if You Have Sarcopenia
The most obvious signs that you may be suffering from sarcopenia are when you notice diminished muscle strength or stamina, feeling easily exhausted, and losing weight without trying to. These can manifest during times when you want to open a bottle or a can but have a weak hand grip, having more difficulty than usual in lifting familiar items, as well as a decreased interest in physical activities. However, these signs can also be a sign of other medical conditions. If you’re starting to feel worried about your health, it is best to consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
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