What is osteoporosis and how does it happen? Osteoporosis is a common disease impacting men and women as they get older. Over time, individuals with this condition experience a weakening of the bones in the body. The bones become brittle, allowing them to break very easily. The condition warrants ongoing treatment and, when possible, steps to prevent the condition from occurring.
What Is Osteoporosis And Other Questions Answered
In this article:
- Why Do Bones Become Weak?
- What Are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
- Who Is Likely to Suffer from Osteoporosis?
- What Causes Osteoporosis?
- How Is Osteoporosis Prevented?
- What Are the Treatment Options for Osteoporosis?
Why Do Bones Become Weak?
What is osteoporosis? And why do bones weaken? The bones in the body are among the hardest substances within it. However, bone is a living tissue. As a result, its consistency changes over a person’s lifetime. Over time, the body replaces these tissues with new material and cells. Sometimes, the new bone created does not have the same density as the old bone. Osteoporosis occurs at this point in many people. This type of bone loss can lead to a high risk of fractures. And, individuals need to address it quickly to prevent a worsening of the condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
Most people have no early warning signs of the development of osteoporosis. More so, once this process begins to happen, signs can be mild and hard to spot. They may include:
- Loss of height
- Pain in the back, due to a vertebra collapsing
- More frequent bone fractures
- A stooped or bent posture
Doctors can provide testing to determine the presence of osteoporosis. This is the best possible way to identify the presence of the condition. Routine screening can pinpoint the early onset of this condition. This may help prevent the worst outcome.
Who Is Likely to Suffer from Osteoporosis?
This condition can occur to anyone. However, women, particularly those who are Caucasian or Asian, are at the highest risk for developing the condition. It typically presents itself after menopause but can occur sooner in some people. Additionally, those who take or took corticosteroids in the past may also be at a higher risk of developing it. Individuals who are older or have a family member with the condition are also at a higher risk. Men and women who have a smaller body frame can also see a higher risk level.
Other factors contributing to these risk factors include:
- Suffering from hormone problems, such as thyroid imbalances or estrogen level balances increases risks.
- Those who do not take in enough calcium throughout their life suffer higher consequences.
- Individuals with eating disorders are at a higher risk.
- Those with previous gastrointestinal surgery are at a high risk if a doctor removed a portion of the intestine.
- Those suffering from celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disorder, cancer, or kidney and liver disease are at a higher risk.
- Individuals taking steroids for conditions such as seizures, transplant rejection, cancer, or reflux are at a higher risk.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Most men and women reach a peak body mass around the age of 20. From this point, the bone tissue continues to build and breakdown. However, the body produces new tissue at a slower rate after this point. More so, bone mass loss happens faster as a person gets older and the body cannot replace it fast enough.
However, researchers know that those who have a higher bone density early on are less likely to lose as much later in life. A goal to prevention is always to increase the amount of density present, then.
How Is Osteoporosis Prevented?
Doctors focus on prevention even when treatment for this condition begins. By preventing a drop in bone density, doctor’s aim to improve a person’s ability to avoid osteoporosis. There are several ways doctors will encourage changes here:
1. Consuming Calcium
Calcium is an important building block in the body’s tissues. If a person does not consume enough, the body pulls calcium from the bones for use. To avoid this, a person needs to consume enough calcium to avoid this depletion of bone mass. People between the ages of 18 and 50 need to consume at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. At age 50, women need to consume 1,200 milligrams daily. At age 70, men need to consume 1,200 milligrams. Calcium sources include low-fat dairy products, soy products, fortified foods, and dark green vegetables.
2. Consuming Protein
Getting enough protein is essential. Protein is one of the most important tools for building bone mass. Individuals who do not get enough protein tend to suffer from osteoporosis as a result. Protein goals vary by person, but those who are vegetarians or vegans are at an increased risk of suffering from this condition. For these individuals, protein from non-meat sources is important. They include nuts, soy products, legumes, eggs, and dairy.
3. Manage Body Weight
Aiming for the ideal body weight is important here. If a person is underweight, this puts increased stress on the body’s bone structure. This increases the risk for fractures. However, those who are overweight are also likely to create strain on the bones.
4. Increase Exercise
Most doctors recommend exercise as a tool for building strong muscles and bones and reducing bone loss. However, those at a high risk of falling – such as those with moderate to severe osteoporosis, may wish to avoid this. For most people, exercising at a young age through strength training and weight-bearing exercise can help to reduce bone mass loss.
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What Are the Treatment Options for Osteoporosis?
The first step in treating this condition is to get a proper diagnosis of it. There are several steps to doing so. This includes bone mineral density screening. X-rays can also be a tool to use to monitor the condition. Once osteoporosis is present, doctors will take a variety of approaches to treat it.
1. Estimating Risk
Doctors first need to determine just how likely a person is to break a bone. When bones break due to bone mass loss, it is hard for the body to recover this. Doctors consider factors to determine if a person is likely to break a bone over the next 10 years. The bone density test reveals this information. This test also determines the proper course of action for treatment.
Medications are necessary for many men and women who have any level of increased risk. The most common form are bisphosphonates. This includes medications such as zoledronic acid, alendronate, risedronate, and ibandronate. These medications do have side effects. They can include nausea and heartburn symptoms. Doctors will monitor for these symptoms and adjust medications as necessary.
It is important to know these medications can have some concerns when used long term. Those used for over five years could lead to an increased development of fractures to the thighbone. Some may also see changes to the jawbone. Though rare, doctors typically monitor for these concerns.
There are other medications offering possible benefits. Doctors may recommend taking denosumab, for example. This is a shot given to patients one time every six months. Another medication is teriparatide. It helps to stimulate bone growth.
3. Hormone Treatments
In women, especially after menopause, the need for hormone-replacement therapy is sometimes necessary. Using estrogen, for example, can help to minimize the amount of bone loss over time. There are side effects and risks with this treatment as well. This includes endometrial cancer, heart disease, and blood clots. Men may need hormone-related therapy as well. Over time, a drop in testosterone levels warrants this. A replacement therapy can help to minimize some symptoms.
4. Lifestyle and Home Remedy Solutions
While continuing the prevention methods tends to be a recommendation doctors give, other lifestyle changes may also help with bone loss. For example, doctors will encourage patients not to smoke. Those who smoke are at a higher level of bone loss. Drinking alcohol can also cause this. Doctors typically aim for recommending no more than two drinks a day. Alcohol can reduce the body’s ability to form bone.
Another key concern is to take steps to reduce falls. A fall and resulting bone fracture create significant risks for patients. It is difficult for the body to overcome the bone mass loss after a fall. This worsens as a person gets older. Reducing falls is a significant goal. Doing so may include:
- Not wearing high-heeled shoes. Wearing non-slip shoes may help.
- Creating a safe living or working environment.
- Removing trip hazards such as area rugs or cords.
- Ensuring rooms offer enough light throughout the day and evening.
- Placing grab bars near slippery surfaces in the bathtub and near steps to ensure steady movement.
In addition to this, there is some evidence alternative treatments can be helpful. The use of soy protein is one option, for example. Though more research is necessary, the use of soy proteins can help to reduce the chances of developing this condition.
What is osteoporosis? How can it be avoided? These 21 foods listed by Foods4Health can help:
What is osteoporosis? It is a condition warranting attention from patients and doctors early on. The goal is to take steps to prevent the onset or worsening of the condition. However, once it is present, it becomes even more important to take aggressive actions to minimize the risks of fractures. Doctors will work closely with patients to ensure this is possible.
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