Osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes bones to become weak and brittle. This can lead to an increased risk of fractures, especially in the hip, spine, and wrist. Osteoporosis is most common in older adults, but it can also affect younger people.
What causes osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is caused by a combination of factors, including:
- Age: The risk of osteoporosis increases with age. This is because bone mass peaks in the late 20s and early 30s, and then starts to decline gradually.
- Sex: Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. This is because women have lower bone mass than men, and they also lose bone mass more rapidly after menopause.
- Family history: If you have a family history of osteoporosis, you are more likely to develop the disease yourself.
- Certain medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease, can increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Certain medications: Long-term use of certain medications, such as steroids, can also increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Lifestyle factors: Certain lifestyle factors, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and a lack of physical activity, can also increase the risk of osteoporosis.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis often does not have any symptoms in the early stages. However, as the disease progresses, it can lead to fractures. The most common fractures caused by osteoporosis are:
- Hip fracture: A hip fracture is a serious injury that can lead to pain, disability, and even death.
- Spinal fracture: A spinal fracture can cause pain, deformity, and loss of height.
- Wrist fracture: A wrist fracture is less serious than a hip or spinal fracture, but it can still be painful and disabling.
How is osteoporosis diagnosed?
Osteoporosis is usually diagnosed with a bone density test, such as a DEXA scan. A DEXA scan measures the amount of bone mineral density (BMD) in your bones. Low BMD is a sign of osteoporosis.
How is osteoporosis treated?
There is no cure for osteoporosis, but there are treatments that can help to prevent fractures and improve bone health. Treatment for osteoporosis usually includes:
- Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle changes that can help to prevent osteoporosis include:
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting alcohol intake
- Medications: There are a number of medications that can help to treat osteoporosis. These medications work by slowing down the loss of bone mass or by increasing bone formation.
Can osteoporosis be prevented?
Osteoporosis cannot be completely prevented, but there are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing the disease. These include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Getting enough calcium and vitamin D:Calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone health. You can get calcium from dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods. You can get vitamin D from sunlight, fatty fish, and fortified foods.
- Exercising regularly: Exercise helps to build strong bones and prevent fractures. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
- Quitting smoking: Smoking can damage bones and increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Limiting alcohol intake: Excessive alcohol intake can also damage bones and increase the risk of osteoporosis.