What Is Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disorder affecting the bones making it weak and vulnerable. Very often, the bones in the wrist or hip or spine area gets affected and become brittle and weak. In this condition even a small cough or mild stress can cause fracture. Normally, the bones are constantly replaced after the death of old bone tissue. But during osteoporosis the new bone may not develop properly after the death of old bone. People who are above 45 years can develop osteoporosis. This condition can be corrected by medications and healthy diet.

Symptoms :

Osteoporosis does not show any signs initially. Once the bone become very weak and vulnerable to fracture it can cause some symptoms like severe back pain, difficulty in walking and standing and sudden fracture. Due to mild fracture the vertebral column can get collapsed which can subsequently cause loss of height. The affected person can stand in a stooped posture. Women who in the period of post-menopause, can consult the doctor if they have any of the above symptoms.

Causes :

The process of building of new bones happens in our body constantly. New bones are made as and when old ones become weak and break. As one grows old, this process becomes slow and hence elderly people are at high risk of developing osteoporosis. During the developmental stage, there will be peak bone mass. Hence the higher the bone mass the lower the risk of developing osteoporosis in old age.

Who are at risk?

Women have increased risk of developing osteoporosis than men (post menopause). Old age people, and people of certain race (Asian and white people) are at high risk for getting osteoporosis. Individual with family history of osteoporosis are vulnerable to develop fractures and people with short structure (small body frame) are at high risk for getting osteoporosis. Hormones play a role in osteoporosis. The bones become weak if the levels of sex hormones decreases. Women may not have sufficient estrogen after menopause and hence at high risk. Similarly aged men will have lower level of testosterone are at risk. Increased production of thyroid hormone makes one vulnerable for getting osteoporosis.

Low intake of calcium in your diet will put you in high risk for developing osteoporosis. People with eating disorders like anorexia may not eat well leading to decreased calcium levels. Prolonged intake of corticosteroids can reduce bone density causing osteoporosis. Bad habits like sedentary lifestyle, drinking excess of alcohol and using tobacco makes one prone to develop this condition. Osteoporosis can cause complications like sudden hip fracture or spinal fracture. The bones become very weak and fragile that even a small fall may cause a fracture.

Diagnosis :

After listing to the symptoms of back pain or wrist pain your doctor may check the bones on your hip and lower back by sending low level of X-rays through it. It helps in finding the exact proportion of mineral in the bones.

Treatment :

Bisphosphonates are prescribed for osteoporosis. Drugs like Alendronate, risedronate or zoledronic acid are given. These medications can cause some adverse effects like abdominal cramps and inflammation of esophagus. Drugs are either injected on the vein or given in the form of pills. For some people it can affect the jawbones.

For some women, estrogen therapy is given to maintain bone density. But it makes them prone to breast cancer and endometrial cancer. In men testosterone therapy is recommended for increasing bone density. In rare cases medications like teriparatide or denosumab are prescribed for increasing bone density.

Lifestyle Changes :

You can easily maintain good eating habits to avoid osteoporosis. Quit smoking and drinking. Alcohol can reduce the absorption of calcium by the bones thereby decreasing bone density. Avoid falls by choosing the right pair of shoes and avoid high-heeled shoes.

Prevention :

You can prevent osteoporosis by taking sufficient calcium and vitamin D in your daily diet. An adult requires about 1000 milligrams of calcium each day and as you grow old your requirement of calcium increases. Hence you can include calcium rich diet like dairy products, green vegetables, soy foods and orange in your diet. Vitamin D is freely available in sunlight and also in many food products. Practice regular exercise so that your bones become strong with increased bone mass.

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