Osteoporosis, which means ‘porous bone’, is a disease in which the bone mass and bone strength are reduced. As we get older, we are unable to replace the bone tissue as quickly as we lose it. It occurs when new bone formation does not match the bone loss. It is a common disease that makes the bones thinner and thus more likely to break.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the bones. Like a honeycomb, the inside of a healthy bone includes tiny gaps. It causes the bone to lose strength and density by increasing the size of these gaps. Also, the outside of the bone becomes weak and thin. It may strike anybody at any age, although it is more frequent among the elderly, particularly women. More than 53 million people in the United States have osteoporosis or are at high risk of developing it. People with it are at high risk for bone fractures or fractures while doing routine activities, such as standing or walking. The most commonly affected bones are the ribs, hips, and wrist and spine bones.
It can occur without any symptoms for decades, as you do not show any symptoms until a bone breaks (fractures). It does not have any symptoms or warning indications in the early stages. Most patients with it are unaware of their disease until they have a fracture. If symptoms appear, some of the former may include:
- Receding gums
- Weakened grip force
- Weak and brittle nails
If you don't have symptoms but have a family history of osteoporosis, talking with your doctor can help you assess your risk.
Some risk factors which make you more susceptible to osteoporosis:
- Gender: Women get osteoporosis more often than men.
- Age: The older you are, the greater your risk of osteoporosis.
- Body size: Small, thin women are at greater risk.
- Family history: If it runs in the family you are more likely to get it.
- Sex hormones: Low estrogen levels due to missing menstrual periods or menopause can cause osteoporosis in women. Low testosterone levels can bring on osteoporosis in men.
- Anorexia nervosa: This eating disorder can lead to it.
- Calcium and vitamin D intake: A diet low in calcium and vitamin D makes you more prone to bone loss.
- Medication use: Some medicines increase the risk.
- Activity level: Lack of exercise or long-term bed rest can cause weak bones.
- Smoking: Cigarettes are bad for bones, and the heart, and lungs, too.
- Drinking alcohol: Too much alcohol can cause bone loss and broken bones.
How Do I Know if I Have Osteoporosis?
If you are suffering any backache, neck pain, or muscle pain you must consult a doctor to see if a bone density test is needed. These scans use very small amounts of radiation to see how strong your bones are.
Many treatments stop bone loss and reduce the chances of fractures. Small changes to your diet and lifestyle along with medications help slow bone loss or build new bone. Treatment includes medications to help build bone mass. Medications often have hormonal influences, stimulating or acting like estrogen in the body to stimulate bone growth. Some examples of medications used to treat it include:
- Parathyroid hormone (PTH), such as teriparatide
- Parathyroid hormone-related protein, such as abaloparatide
- Raloxifene (Evista)
Romosozumab (Evenity) is a newer drug that was approved by the FDA in April 2019 to treat women who have gone through menopause and are at high risk for fractures. It has a "black box" warning because Evenity can increase the risk of heart attacks or strokes, so it is not recommended for people with a history of both. Kyphoplasty is a surgical treatment for fractures. Kyphoplasty involves the use of small incisions to insert a small balloon into the collapsed vertebrae to restore the height and function of the spine.
Tips to Prevent Osteoporosis
Some healthy habits can help prevent it:
Smoking is bad for bones as well as for the heart and lungs. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol as it makes you more prone to bone loss.
It makes your bones and muscles stronger. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking jogging, playing tennis, and dancing, are best for preventing osteoporosis when done regularly.
Add calcium to your diet
Experts recommend 1,000 milligrams each day for women before menopause and 1,200 milligrams a day for those who’ve been through it. Milk and dairy products, fish, dark green, leafy vegetables, such as kale and broccoli are good sources of calcium.
Supplement your diet
It’s best to get calcium through the food you eat. But if you don’t get enough, ask your doctor if you need any calcium supplements.
Your body needs it to absorb calcium. You can get some of what you need by spending time in the sun, which prompts your body to make vitamin D.
Facts of Osteoporosis
- It is a condition of fragile bone with an increased susceptibility to fracture.
- The diagnosis can be suggested by X-rays and confirmed by tests to measure bone density.
- It is common in India, and the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among Indians is one of the major reasons for this condition.
- It is important to encourage children to drink milk and play in the sun to ensure adequate calcium intake and vitamin D synthesis.
- Peak bone density is reached at approximately 25 years of age. Therefore, it is important to build strong bones by this age so that the bones will remain strong later in life.
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