What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a Latin word that means “porous bone,” which is an accurate description of what happens to the bones of people with osteoporosis. People with osteoporosis have low bone mass, and the structures of their bone deteriorate over time. Their bones can easily break, and a fall can cause serious damage.
At a young age, it is important to take osteoporosis prevention steps. As we get older, we become more vulnerable to the effects of this disease. A person with low bone mass may not notice any problems when they are young. But as they mature, they may start to suffer from the effects of osteoporosis.
The most severe complication of osteoporosis is bone fractures. A person who has osteoporosis is at more risk of a fracture caused by an injury or fall. If a fracture occurs on the spin, this is particularly dangerous. It can cause back pain and a hunched posture.
How Common is Osteoporosis?
Worldwide, over 53 million people have osteoporosis or at high risk of developing this disease. In the Philippines, around 10.3 million will be affected by 2030. Osteoporosis is a serious condition, and osteoporosis prevention should always be a priority.
What Are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis does not usually show any symptoms early on. However, once it has progressed to the point that the bone loss is severe, the following symptoms may start to appear:
- Back pain, which can be caused by fractures in the spine
- Loss of height
- Developing a hunched or bent posture
- Bones that are more fragile and can break easily
These symptoms manifest in old age as our bones naturally get weaker over time. It is also possible for younger people to develop osteoporosis. However, this is very rare and is usually caused by another illness, such as juvenile arthritis or diabetes.
When Should I See My Doctor?
Young people usually do not need to worry about osteoporosis. By merely taking in osteoporosis prevention, you can lower your risk of developing osteoporosis in the future.
However, older people should talk to their doctor about osteoporosis before experiencing any symptoms. Osteoporosis is a silent disease. S person with this condition may not know that they are at risk until they suffer a fall or hurt themselves.
Causes and Risk Factors
Our bones are constantly growing. Older bone gets broken down, and new bone grows to replace it. This process frequently happens when you are younger. But once you are in your 20s, it starts to slow down. Tt progressively gets slower as you grow older. Your bone mass usually peaks when you are 30 years old. And from there, your bone mass starts to deteriorate.
Eventually, this will get to the point where your bone loss occurs faster than the creation of new bone. When this happens, your bones become weaker and become more vulnerable to fractures. Older people are more at risk of injury as their bones are very fragile.
Osteoporosis occurs when you do not reach peak bone mass in your youth. When you mature, your bones become weaker and more fragile compared to those who have reached peak bone mass.
Young people are encouraged to eat the right, balanced diet, and take supplements to strengthen their bones.
What Are the Risk Factors for Osteoporosis?
Here are some of the possible risk factors for osteoporosis:
- Old age
- Women are also more likely to develop osteoporosis because menopause can cause bone loss
- Caucasians and Asians are more susceptible to the disease
- People with smaller body frames are also at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. They typically have less bone mass compared to those with a larger frame
- Having a parent or sibling with osteoporosis can also increase your risk
- Low levels of estrogen and testosterone
- Thyroid problems
- Lack of calcium
- Use of steroids
- Celiac Disease, kidney disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Being sedentary, smoking, and drinking too much alcohol are all risk factors for osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is diagnosed through what is called a Bone Mineral Density test or BMD. A BMD test helps measure your bone mass. It also helps determine if you have osteoporosis or are at risk for osteoporosis and fractures. Doctors will use this test as well to see if you will respond well to osteoporosis treatment.
It is a painless procedure, similar to an X-ray, so you do not have to worry.
Based on the results, your doctor will be able to determine the best treatment plan for you.
What Forms of Treatment Are Available for Osteoporosis?
Treatment depends on your current bone health. Here are some of the possible treatments that your doctor may recommend:
- If you already have osteoporosis, the doctor may prescribe medication or hormone therapy to prevent further bone loss.
- For those who are at risk, the doctor may recommend a change in diet. Eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D can help strengthen bones.
- Exercise is also usually recommended. It can improve your bone health and strengthen your muscles to avoid falls.
- Your doctor may also recommend tips to help lower your risk of a fall. Older people are more at risk of serious injury.
By far, the best way to deal with osteoporosis is through osteoporosis prevention. This condition manifests in old age. Take steps to prevent it while you are still young to lower your risk significantly.
Here are some good tips on osteoporosis prevention:
- Regular exercise helps keep your bones and muscles strong and improves bone mass. In particular, weight-bearing activities such as running, jumping, aerobics, and dancing are great exercises to prevent osteoporosis. Try to engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin D and calcium such as green leafy vegetables, dairy products, red meat, salmon, and egg yolks. If you are unable to get enough vitamin D, supplements are also a good alternative.
- Go out and get some sunlight. Sunlight is a great, free source of vitamin D. The best time to get sun exposure is in the early morning.
- If you are a smoker, consider quitting smoking. Smoking increases your risk of osteoporosis, as well as other illnesses.
Osteoporosis is a serious condition that affects millions of people globally. However, it is a preventable and treatable disease. Taking osteoporosis prevention steps early on can help reduce the possibility of developing this disease later on.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.