Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the bone, causing the bone tissue to thin and bone density to lower. Osteoporosis is the most common form of bone disease affecting more than 10 million Americans, approximately 80 percent of which are women. Osteoporosis literally means porous bones which imply that the bones of people afflicted are brittle, weak and prone to breakage. People with osteoporosis usually suffer from fractures even from minor falls and accidents. While often thought of as a disease that only affects women, osteoporosis can affect men too. It also affects people who are older, but younger people of both genders who have low bone density are at risk of developing the disease later on in life.
Low bone density will not have any symptoms so it’s hard to tell when you’re at risk when you’re younger. Once it develops into a disease, the symptoms of osteoporosis include back pain which is a result of a broken or collapsed vertebra; loss of height because of the compacting of the vertebra, and a posture that is stooped. If you frequently suffer fractures from minor accidents, you may also be suffering from osteoporosis.
There are many people who are at risk for osteoporosis. If you want to know for sure, a test called bone density screening is available and is especially recommended if you fall into the following categories:
- In an advanced age; 65 years old for women and 70 years old for men
- A postmenopausal woman who has at least one other risk factor
- A man who is between the age of 50 and 70 who has at least one other risk factor
- Have taken medications that have a relation to bone density loss such as anti-seizure drugs and prednisone
- A woman who went through menopause early
- A woman who recently stopped taking postmenopausal hormone therapy
There is no conclusive finding yet as to why osteoporosis happens, but doctors do know that in people with osteoporosis had a lower peak bone mass when they were younger. This means that people who have osteoporosis, in their youth did not build up enough mass in their bones to make up for when the bones started to stop making much bone cells in our advanced age. The bone density is dictated by how much calcium, phosphorous and other minerals a person took during the critical bone forming years, as well as hormone levels and the amount of stress or exercise the bone received.
There are risk factors connected with osteoporosis that cannot be changed, but there are also some measures that you can take in order to lower your risk of osteoporosis. Risk factors that cannot be changed include gender (women are at a higher risk), age (people who are at an advanced age are at a higher risk), family history, too much of the hormone thyroid, or having medical conditions that affect bone density. In order to lower the risk of osteoporosis, consider the following:
- Ensure regular calcium intake – calcium can be derived from dairy products such as milk and yogurt, as well as many fruits and vegetables. Calcium is the building block of the bone, so everyone—young and old—is advised to load up on calcium for stronger bnes.
- Stop smoking—the relationship between tobacco use and osteoporosis is not well understood, but doctors know that smoking contributes to lowering bone density.
- Stay active—weight bearing exercises help the bones become stronger and makes it denser. People who are active during their younger years are less at risk of having osteoporosis. Those who are sedentary are advised to start exercising to lower their risk.
- Regulate your alcohol intake—people who drink two or more glasses of alcoholic beverages are at a higher risk of osteoporosis. This is believed to be caused by the alcohol inhibiting the absorption of calcium into the body.
People diagnosed with osteoporosis have medications available to them for managing the disease. They are also advised to take measures in order to prevent aggravating their condition. These measures include maintaining proper posture, having people fix around the house to make it less of a risk for falls and accidents and preventing climbing onto steep areas like ladders. People with osteoporosis may also eventually need implements such as canes, walker support, or a wheelchair.