Osteoporosis, literally 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. Osteoporosis occurs when new bone formation does not match the bone loss. Osteoporosis is a common disease that makes the bones thinner and thus more likely to break.
Symptoms and Signs
Osteoporosis can be present without any symptoms for decades as it doesn’t show any symptoms until a bone breaks (fractures). Surprisingly, some osteoporotic fractures may escape detection for years if they do not cause symptoms. Therefore, patients may not be aware of their osteoporosis until they suffer a painful fracture.
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What Causes Osteoporosis?
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 osteoporosis runs in the family you are more likely to get it.
- Sex hormones: Low estrogen levels due to missing menstrual periods or to menopause can cause osteoporosis in women. Low testosterone levels can bring on osteoporosis in men.
- Anorexia nervosa: This eating disorder can lead to osteoporosis.
- 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 of osteoporosis.
- 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 your are suffering any back ache, 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.
Treatments for Osteoporosis
Many osteoporosis treatments stop bone loss and lower your chances of fractures. Small changes in your diet and lifestyle along with medications help slow down bone loss or build new bone.
Tips to Prevent Osteoporosis
Some healthy habits can help prevent osteoporosis and fractures:
- Healthy Lifestyle: 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.
- Exercise: 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.
- Vitamin D: 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.
Some facts of Osteoporosis
- Osteoporosis is a condition of fragile bone with an increased susceptibility to fracture.
- The diagnosis of osteoporosis can be suggested by X-rays and confirmed by tests to measure bone density.
- Osteoporosis is common in India, and 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 so as 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