Osteoporosis literally means “porous bones”. It is known that our bones remain strongest till the age of 30 and thereafter it begins to lose its density. Millions of people have osteoporosis which is more than the normal bone loss, which increases the risk of facture and injury. Mostly women over 50 are prone to osteoporosis and will undergo a fracture in their lifetime.
What are the symptoms?
Mostly people will not realize they have osteoporosis until they have an accident and fracture their bones or they will have a change in posture as years go by indicating the onset of osteoporosis. Many patients have significant bone loss even without realizing it for many years. Some symptoms include severe back pain, severe change in posture etc.
What causes osteoporosis?
Take into consideration our bones which are constantly being rebuilt all along our lifetime and this is done with the help of collagen a protein in our body which provides the basic framework and calcium phosphate which is a mineral that hardens the bones. What happens is that, as we age we lose more bone than is replaced. Especially in women this loss is greatest after menopause and leads to falls and fractures.
What are the risk factors?
There are several risk factors that are beyond human control. It is observed that those women who are thin and have small frames are more likely to develop osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is also dependent on family history or heredity and the ethnicity of the person. It is more common in Asians and Whites rather than Africans and Hispanics. Some conditions like type 1 diabetes, IBS, rheumatoid arthritis and hormonal imbalance also are linked to bone loss.
Controllable risk factors
A lifestyle involving smoking, excess drinking, a sedentary lifestyle and a diet low in calcium and vitamin D make a person more vulnerable to osteoporosis. Some medications including corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory medicines for treating asthma increase the risk of bone loss. Some eating disorder like anorexia and bulimia can also affect the bone health.
How is osteoporosis diagnosed?
Osteoporosis is easily detected in a patient by using certain tests. The doctor will first recommend a bone mineral density test if the patient is susceptible to osteoporosis or
- Patient is over 50 years and has broken a bone
- If the patient is a women over 65 and a man over 70
- It is a women in menopause or over menopause
- If it is a man over 50-69 years with risk factors
Doctors may also recommend DXA or low dose X-rays to measure the bone density in the hip and spine which will hardly take any time.
What are the treatments for osteoporosis?
After osteoporosis has been properly diagnosed the doctor will start you on a bone-boosting medicine or for women recommend a hormonal replacement treatment where estrogen is replaced using estrogen agents. Since this is a high risk medicine it is used in controlled measures and not usually prescribed. Today biological alternatives in the form of injections are available to be administered twice a year but this has its own side effects and should be used with discretion.