Osteoporosis refers to weak or brittle bones. Naturally, bone tissues break and replace themselves with new ones. With osteoporosis, the bone is unable to produce enough new tissue to make up for the lost ones. The condition can be so severe that even coughing or bending can cause fractures or breaks in the bone.
Osteoporosis typically does not cause any pain until a bone is fractured or broken. It mostly affects the bones on the hip, spine and wrist.
Signs & Symptoms
Once a bone is weakened by osteoporosis, the following symptoms will start to occur:
- Loss of height over time
- Stooped posture
- Back pain due to a fractured vertebra
- Bones that break easily
- Shortness of breath due to nerve compression in spinal discs
There is a variety of factors that can cause an individual to develop osteoporosis. Some of these include:
- Sex – Women are more likely to have osteoporosis compared to men.
- Age – Osteoporosis is more likely to occur in older people.
- Family – Individuals who have family members or close relatives that have history of osteoporosis have higher chances of having osteoporosis.
- Body Frame Size – A small body frame may be an indicator of low bone mass.
- Food Intake – Having a low-calcium diet can lead to diminished bone density.
There are steps one can practice to prevent osteoporosis. These include:
- Consumption of calcium-rich food – Regular and adequate consumption of food that are rich in calcium like dairy food, spinach and sardines. There are also calcium supplements that one can purchase as long as advised and guided by a health professional.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D supports the body in absorbing calcium. The main natural source of Vitamin D is the sun and some food like fatty fish, egg, liver and low-fat milks and margarine.
- Exercise – Committing oneself to exercise can do wonders to the body. Aside from fitness benefits, exercise can stimulate the cells that are responsible for building bones.
- Healthy life habits – Cultivate a healthy lifestyle that includes quitting smoking, minimizing alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy weight.
Even with an improvement in lifestyle and diet, the effects of osteoporosis can still persist. When this happens, doctors can prescribe medications such as:
- Biosphonates – Biosphonates prevent the bones from losing calcium and other minerals by slowing or stopping the bones from dissolving.
- Denosumab – This helps to improve the bone mineral density and reduce the risk of vertebral, hip and nonvertebral fractures.
Hormone therapy – In women, taking estrogen during and after menopause helps prevent bone density loss; while in men, testosterone replacement therapy can help address low testosterone, which is associated with osteoporosis.
Be sure to seek medical attention by a rheumatologist should you be at risk of osteoporosis or need help managing the condition better.