What is Osteoporosis?
Our bones consist of tissues and they grow as we grow. Osteoporosis is the disease of bones in which bone density is lost. Healthy bones are denser than the ones affected by osteoporosis as it makes them porous.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
There are no symptoms of bone weakness in the initial stage. Although you may start experiencing them when osteoporosis has already weakened the bones.
The signs of bone loss are back ache, loss of height, stooped posture, and bone fracture. People with weak bones have increased risk of fractures than healthy people.
Causes of Osteoporosis Disease
Age is a factor for decreasing bone mass as bone loss is faster than it it is renewed. Peak bone mass is reached as we reach 20 years of age after which the ratio of bone renewal to bone loss starts declining. Higher the bone mass you had in your youth, lower the chances of suffering from osteoporosis.
Risk Factors of Osteoporosis
A number of factors decide whether you will develop osteoporosis in future.
The unchangeable factors include sex, age, family history, race, and body frame size. All these factors are out of your control.
Women have more risk of developing osteoporosis as they lose more calcium in their lifetime. Age is another factor which declines bone mass as it increases. White and Asian people are more likely to suffer from bone problems.
Having osteoporosis in family history also increases your chances of suffering from it. Moreover, people having small body frames do not have much to draw from in older age. This makes them have bone problems in future.
Hormones have an effect on triggering osteoporosis. Women having little estrogen at menopause are likely to develop osteoporosis. Likewise, men have reduced testosterone levels as they age which also puts them at risk of osteoporosis.
Having thyroid hormone production in excess also increases the risk of having bone loss. Overactive adrenal glands are also linked with increased risk osteoporosis.
Low calcium intake increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. Low calcium reserves diminishes bone mass and increases the risk of fractures. Also, restricted diet and not getting enough nutrition can develop osteoporosis.
Moreover, the ability to absorb nutrients decreases after a gastrointestinal surgery. The surgery will also reduce calcium absorption resulting in bone loss.
A sedentary lifestyle increases the likelihood of developing bone problems. Running, walking, jumping, and weight balancing exercises are all beneficial for bone health. Excessive alcohol consumption is also bad for your bones. Moreover, the use of tobacco is also harmful for your bones.
How Common is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is more common in females than in men. It was reported that around 54 million people suffer from osteoporosis in the United States. Both men and women are at risk of breaking bones after the age of 50 although it is more common for women.
How is Osteoporosis Diagnosed?
A simple X-ray can indicate bone loss as weak bones are lighter than normal. Unfortunately, an X-ray detects osteoporosis only after the bones have been affected 30%. Therefore, relying in an X-ray for determining bone density is not a good way.
Another test to diagnose bone density is the dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scan. This test takes only 5 to 15 minutes and measures hip bone density, forearm, and the spine bone density accurately. The bone density test is required to know the condition of bones.
People aged over 65 should have the test. Also, women under the age of 65 and having increased risk of osteoporosis should have the test done. Also, the test is recommended for women having fractures and going through the postmenopausal phase.
Which Diseases Can Increase Risk of Osteoporosis?
Health diseases can increase the risk of osteoporosis which should be taken care of as osteoporosis can get serious. Also, going through various medical procedures affects the health of bones.
Autoimmune disorders such as Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Ankylosing spondylitis affect bone mass. Other digestive disorders include celiac disease, weight loss surgery, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Breast cancer and prostate cancer, leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injury, thalassemia, depression, eating disorders, kidney disease, liver problems, and organ tansplants are all conditions affecting the health of bones.
Endrocrine disorders such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, irregular periods, premature menopause, and low levels of testosterone in males can also weaken the bones.
Other medical procedures including gastrointestinal bypass procedures can also interfere with bone health and make them weak.
Medicines that may Cause Bone Loss
Even medicines used to treat certain health conditions may weaken bones. It is important to discuss this with your doctor as the risk can increase further with long term use.
However, it is not advised to stop taking any medicine without the doctor’s say. It is possible that your dose will be altered according to your condition.
Is it Possible to Prevent Osteoporosis?
Prevention is as important as treating a certain condition. Osteoporosis can be prevented by making lifestyle changes. It is necessary that you quit smoking and alcohol intake.
Increase you intake of calcium and Vitamin D along with a balanced diet. Medications for increasing bone strength can also help in stopping bone loss.
Exercise regularly as it has beneficial effects on health. It improved balance and prevents falls by strengthening muscles.
Supplements for Osteoporosis
Calcium supplements can help in fulfilling the body’s requirements of daily calcium. However, the intake should not exceed 2000mg in a day.
Our daily diet also contains calcium such as dairy products including milk, yogurt, and cheese. Other calcium sources should also be taken into account when taking a calcium supplement.
A calcium supplement is safe. Only a few people face side effects such as constipation and indigestion. Medications can interfere with the absorption of calcium which should be discussed with a doctor before use.
Vitamin D is also vital for the absorption of calcium. Therefore supplements containg Vitamin D are also useful for treating osteoporosis. However, supplements should not be relied upon as osteoporosis needs proper treatment to be followed.
Also, a diet containing adequate levels of calcium and vitamin D can help in preventing osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a condition depending on many factors. Although the uncontrollable factors cannot be prevented, it is possible to tackle other risks. A healthy diet and lifestyle can help in preventing bone loss.
Calcium and Vitamin D are vital for bone strength. Try and add sufficient sources to fulfil your daily need but do not exceed the recommended daily intake. Supplements can be taken after consulting a doctor. All these measures can aid in osteoporosis treatment but cannot solely treat the condition.