The first time Sudheer decided to get his father checked by a bone specialist was after his father’s 60th birthday. When gathering in the backyard to cut the birthday cake, Sudheer’s father had an accidental fall and fractured his wrist. Considering his age, the doctor asked him to undergo a bone density test. The results showed that he was suffering from osteoporosis. The doctor then explained to him what this disease was and how he could possibly manage it.
Osteoporosis has long been considered a women’s disease because 80% of those affected are women. But research over the decade suggests that osteoporosis also takes a significant toll on men. Worldwide, it is estimated that after the age of 50 one in three women will experience osteoporotic fractures, as well as one in five men. Such fractures are a major cause of disability in both men and women. To know more about why osteoporosis is more common in women, click here.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that develops when the body loses too many bones, creates too few bones, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may easily break from a fall or, in more severe cases, from minor bumps or even sneezing.
Osteoporosis means ‘porous bones’. Viewed under a microscope, healthy bones looks like a honeycomb. When osteoporosis occurs, the spaces and holes in the honeycomb appear to be much larger than in healthy bones.
What are the Causes of Osteoporosis?
Human bones are in a constant state of renewal — new bones are made and old bones are broken down. When young, our body makes new bones faster than the rate at which it breaks down old bones. This results in increased bone mass. From the early 20s, the process slows down and most people reach their peak bone mass by the time they turn 30. As people age, bone mass is lost faster.
How likely you might develop osteoporosis depends on how much bone mass you attained in your youth. Peak bone mass is somewhat inherited and varies from one ethnic group to the other. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bones you have and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you start ageing.
What are the Secondary Causes of Osteoporosis?
There are numerous secondary causes of osteoporosis, including adverse effects of certain types of drug therapy, endocrine disorders, eating disorders, immobilization, marrow-related disorders, disorders of the biliary or gastrointestinal tract, renal diseases and cancer.
Patients who have undergone organ transplantation are also at risk for osteoporosis. In many cases, adverse effects of osteoporosis are reversible with appropriate intervention.
What are the common signs and symptoms of osteoporosis?
There typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. But once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you might have signs and symptoms that include:
- Back pain resulting from a collapsed or fractured vertebra
- Loss of height with time
- A stooped posture
- Bone(s) that break more easily than expected
Does Osteoporosis Run in Your Family?
If one of your parents has had a broken bone, get screened earlier for osteoporosis, a medical condition which causes bones to become weak. As a result, they are more likely to break. Share your family health history with your doctor and he/she can help take steps to strengthen your bones and prevent broken bones.
Treatment aims to:
- Slow the development of osteoporosis
- Maintain healthy bone mineral density and mass
- Prevent fractures
- Reduce pain
- Maximize the person’s ability to continue with daily activities
People at risk can use preventive lifestyle measures, medications as prescribed by doctors and physical therapies for controlling osteoporosis.
How do I improve my bone health naturally if I have osteoporosis?
There are steps you can take to strengthen weak bones:
- Take medications to strengthen your bones
- Avoid medications that make your bones weaker
- Maintain a healthy diet that includes adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium
- Perform weight-bearing exercises daily
- Avoid smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption
Don’t wait until you have a broken bone to take steps to improve your bone health — you can start at any age!
To know more about the treatment options available at Medica, click here.