Osteoporosis is a condition in which the density of bones decreases. To replace it, the body reabsorbs more bone tissues and produces less of the same. The bones become more weak and porous in people having osteoporosis and increase the risk of having fractures, especially in body parts like vertebrae, hip, and peripheral joints like wrists.
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), more than 44 million people in the US currently suffer from osteoporosis.
Signs and Symptoms of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition that develops slowly. Most people cannot know they have it until a fracture or break occurs to them after falls or accidents. Even a slight sneeze or cough can result in the breaking of osteoporotic bones. Breaks usually occur in parts of the body such as wrists, spinal vertebrae or the hip in people having osteoporosis. Breaks in the spinal vertebrae might result in stoop, posture changes, or even curvature of the spine. A decrease in height can also sometimes be noticed in them.
When to See a Doctor for Osteoporosis
Unexpected and unidentified fractures can often be indicated by various discomforts in the common locations of the osteoporotic bone. It is very important to seek medical evaluation when they notice these types of pain.
Treatment for Osteoporosis
The treatment strategies of osteoporosis aim at slowing and preventing the development of osteoporosis, preventing fractures, maintaining the mass and mineral density of bones, reducing pain, and maximizing the ability of a person to continue with their daily activities.
People who have the risk of developing osteoporosis and associated fractures can adopt healthy lifestyles for preventing the same; they can also stick on to taking medications and supplements.
Treatment of osteoporosis using drugs helps in the prevention and treatment of this condition. Here are some of the drugs that are been used in treating osteoporosis.
Bisphosphonates – These are drugs that are antiresorptive in nature. They help in slowing down bone loss and in reducing the risk of fracture.
Estrogen agonists or antagonists- These are regarded as estrogen-receptor modulators by doctors, and can reduce the risk of fractures in the spine, especially in women following menopause.
Calcitonin- It is a drug that helps in preventing spinal fractures and managing the pain, especially in postmenopausal women.
Causes and Risk Factors of Osteoporosis
Several risk factors associated with osteoporosis are identified by doctors, some of which are modifiable and some of which are unavoidable. The body of a person having osteoporosis absorbs the bone tissue continually and generates new bone for maintaining the density, strength, and structural integrity of the bone.
Bone density affects a person when they are in their late 20s and begins to get weaker by the age of 35. The bone breaks down at a faster rate than it is rebuilt as a person grows older. If the breakdown of bone occur excessively in the body, osteoporosis is likely to occur.
This condition can occur in both males and females, but is more likely to occur in women who are after menopause because of the sudden decrease in the levels of estrogen in their body as estrogen is the hormone that protects women from having osteoporosis.
It is been advised by the IOF that one out of three women, and one out of five men are likely to experience fractures due to osteoporosis when they reach the age of 50.
Prevention of Osteoporosis
Alterations to lifestyle can reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Intake of Calcium and vitamin D
One of the major components which are vital for bone health is calcium. Therefore, people need to make sure that they take in enough amounts of calcium daily. Adults who are aged above 19 should take in a thousand milligrams of calcium per day whereas women over the age of 51 and adults aged above 71 should consume 1200 mg of calcium per day.
The dietary sources of calcium mostly include – cereals, dairy foods such as yogurt, milk and cheese, green leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale, and fishes having soft bones such as tuna and salmon.
Supplements are always an option if the calcium intake of a person is not adequate and they are available for purchase in medical stores and online stores.
Another important element that plays a key role in the prevention of osteoporosis is Vitamin D as it is beneficial in absorbing calcium from the body. Dietary sources of vitamin D include liver, saltwater fishes, fortified foods, etc. The main source of vitamin D is the sunlight, and therefore people are most recommended to have moderate and regular exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D supplements are also available for purchasing online.
One of the other factors aiding osteoporosis is the lifestyle factor. Smoking can lessen the growth of new bones and reduce the estrogen levels in women; therefore avoiding smoking is a must for people having osteoporosis.