Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a dreaded condition because it is usually associated with old age. But although weakening of the bones is inevitable with getting old, not all can have bones so weak they can become fractured even with the mildest stress. Osteoporosis results from serious lack of calcium and other minerals that make bones strong.

Symptoms

Symptoms do not usually appear during the early stages of bone loss. But those who may have the disease may experience the following signs:

– Severe back pain especially for those who have fractured vertebra
– Shrinking of the body due to loss of height and stooped posture
– Fracture of major bones and joints

Causes

Osteoporosis is usually caused by the weakening of the bones. People whose bones that do not have enough minerals like calcium and phosporus to keep them strong are prime candidates for the disease. Weak bones can also result from lack of physical activity such as regular exercise.

Risk Factors

Those who are at high risk of developing osteoporosis are:

– Women in general and men who have low levels of testosterone
– People who are getting old
– White or Southeast Asian
– Persons with family of history of osteoporosis
– People with exceptionally thin or have small body frames
– Smokers
– Women with estrogen deficiency
– Women with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
– Patients with long-term use of corticosteroid medications
– Women who have breast cancer
– People who have low calcium intake
– Alcoholics

Tests and Diagnosis

To detect possible signs of mild bone loss or osteoporosis, your doctor will make use the following:

– Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry
– Ultrasound
– Quantitative computerized tomography scanning

Complications

Fracturing of the bones is most common and most serious complication of the disease. The spine and hips are most susceptible to fractures. Those who have hip fractures can be disabled for the rest of their lives or can even risk death from postoperative complications. Spinal fractures can cause severe pain and requires a long recovery period.

Treatment

Osteoporosis can be controlled or eliminated by the following:

– Hormone therapy
– Prescription medications such as bisphosphonates, calcitonin and tamoxifen

Prevention

People should start taking in adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D in order to build strong bones. Women who already had their menopause should consider taking hormone therapy to lessen the chances of bone loss. The most common sources of calcium are dairy products, almonds, salmon, broccoli and soy products.

Osteoporosis can also be prevented by getting lots of regular exercise, quitting smoking and moderate consumption of alcohol and caffeine.