What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone disease. It develops when the bone loses its density. The body then reabsorbs more of the bone tissue. Unfortunately, the body fails to produce more bone tissues to replace the absorbed ones.
People with osteoporosis suffer from porous and weak bones. This increases the risk of fractures especially in the spine, hip, and peripheral joints like the wrist. The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) estimates that there are over 44 million individuals who suffer from osteoporosis in the United States.
Signs & Symptoms of Osteoporosis
People may not know that they are suffering from osteoporosis until they have experienced a fracture or a break from a minor incident. Even a cough or sneeze can break the bones of a person with osteoporosis.
Breaks may occur in the wrist, hip, or spinal vertebrae. A break in the spine can lead to postural change. The person may start to stoop or experience a spinal curvature. People will start noticing a decrease in their height or that their clothes do not fit anymore.
You need to see a doctor if you start experiencing severe bone discomfort, which could indicate a fracture.
Underlying Causes of Osteoporosis
There are several causes of osteoporosis. Some risk factors are modifiable, but other factors are completely unavoidable. The body absorbs your bones’ old tissues and continually generates new ones to maintain the bone’s strength, density, and integrity.
The bone density peaks when you reach your late 20s, and then the bone starts to weaken at around 35 years old. As you grow older, the bone breaks down faster and rebuilds slower. It is during this stage that a person may develop osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis can affect both males and females, but it is most likely to affect women after menopause because of the drop in estrogen levels. These hormones normally help prevent the development of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
You will likely develop osteoporosis if you have any of these risk factors:
- The risk of developing osteoporosis increases after you’ve reached your mid-30s and after menopause.
- Lower estrogen levels also put you at risk of developing osteoporosis. The reduced levels make it harder for the body to create bone tissues.
- White and Asian people share a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than any other ethnic group.
- People over 5’7” tall or those weighing under 125 pounds are at risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Osteoporosis may also run in the family.
- A history of fracture places you at risk of developing osteoporosis.
Your diet and lifestyle choices also increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. You are more at risk if you are often immobile or inactive. Weight-bearing exercises can help prevent osteoporosis.
Diseases that affect your hormone levels, as well as medications that affect your hormones, may also place you at risk of developing osteoporosis. Some medical conditions that increase your risk includes:
- Autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis
- Adrenal gland disorders like Cushing’s syndrome
- Pituitary gland disorders
- Hyperthyroidism and hyperparathyroidism
- Celiac disease
The treatment of osteoporosis is designed to hinder or slow down the progress or prevent the development of osteoporosis. It aims to maintain healthy bone mass and density. It can also help prevent fractures and eliminate pain.
Proper treatment can also maximize the person’s ability to live their lives as normally as possible. People with osteoporosis can also use preventive lifestyle, medications, and supplements to treat the problem.
How to Prevent Osteoporosis
Calcium and Vitamin D Intake or Supplements
Dairy products are great sources of calcium, and they can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Calcium is crucial to bone strength and growth. It is important to consume enough calcium daily.
Good dietary sources of calcium include:
- Dairy foods like cheese, milk, and yogurt
- Green leafy veggies like broccoli and kale
- Soft-boned fish, such as tuna and salmon
- Breakfast cereals
Consider taking supplements if your daily intake of calcium-rich foods is inadequate. You should also ensure that you take enough Vitamin D. This vitamin plays a role in preventing the development of osteoporosis. It helps the body absorb calcium better.
Saltwater fish, fortified foods, and liver are fantastic sources of Vitamin D. However, the best source of Vitamin D is the sunlight. Doctors recommend regular exposure to sunlight.
A few changes in your lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis. Avoid smoking as this decreases estrogen and hinders bone growth. Limit your alcohol intake to prevent falls and encourage bone growth.
Get regular exercise such as walking as this strengthens your bones and muscles. Exercise also promotes healthy bone growth. Yoga as well as exercises that help with balance and flexibility are great for the bones.