Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens the bones to the point that they become fragile and break easily. Women and men with osteoporosis most often break bones in the hip, spine, and wrist, but any bone can be affected. People can’t “catch” osteoporosis or give it to someone else. Osteoporosis is often called “silent” because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People may not know that they have osteoporosis until a sudden strain, bump, or fall causes a bone to break. This can result in a trip to the hospital, surgery, and possibly a long-term disabling condition.
Causes of Osteoporosis
Many risk factors can lead to bone loss and osteoporosis. Some of these things people cannot change and others they can. Risk factors people cannot change include:-
• Gender:- Women get osteoporosis more often than men.
• Age:- The older people are, the greater risk of osteoporosis.
• Body size:- Small, thin women are at greater risk.
• Ethnicity:- White and Asian women are at highest risk. Black and Hispanic women have a lower risk.
• Family history:- Osteoporosis tends to run in families. If a family member osteoporosis or breaks a bone, there is a greater chance that people will too.
Other risk factors are
• Anorexia nervosa:- This eating disorder can lead to osteoporosis.
• Calcium and vitamin D intake:- A diet low in calcium and vitamin D makes you more prone to bone loss.
• Medication use:- Some medicines increase the risk of osteoporosis.
• Activity level:- Lack of exercise or long-term bed rest can cause weak bones.
• Smoking:- Cigarettes are bad for bones, and the heart, and lungs, too.
• Drinking alcohol:- Too much alcohol can cause bone loss and broken bones.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
There typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. But once bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you may have signs and symptoms that include:-
- Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra.
- Loss of height over time.
- A stooped posture.
- A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected.
Prevention of Osteoporosis
There are many steps you can take to help keep your bones healthy. To help keep your bones strong and slow down bone loss, you can:-
- Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
- Not drink in excess or smoke.
A healthy diet with enough calcium and vitamin D helps make your bones strong. Many people get less than half the calcium they need. Good sources of calcium are:-
- Low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- Foods with added calcium such as orange juice, cereals, and breads.
- Vitamin D is also needed for strong bones. Some people may need to take vitamin D pills. The chart on this page shows the amount of calcium and vitamin D you should get each day.
Exercise helps your bones grow stronger. To increase bone strength, you can:-
- Climb stairs
- Lift weights
- Play tennis
Smoking is bad for bones as well as the heart and lungs. Also, people who drink a lot of alcohol are more prone to bone loss and broken bones due to poor diet and risk of falling.
Diagnosing of Osteoporosis
The Bone mineral density test is best way to check your bone health. This test can:-
- Diagnose osteoporosis and tell you whether you are likely to break a bone.
- Check bone strength.
Treatment of osteoporosis
Treatment of osteoporosis will depend upon the results of bone density scans, age, gender, medical history and the severity of the condition. Treatment most commonly involves lifestyle changes and medications and aims to maximize bone density and reduce the risk of bone fracture. Here below mentioned treatments are helpful in osteoporosis:-
If possible, regular weight bearing exercise (e.g. walking tennis, golf) should be maintained as it can help to reduce bone loss and stimulate new bone formation. To be of benefit, doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise at least three times in week. Prior to beginning new exercise it is important to consult a doctor to ensure that the proposed exercise is safe to undertake.
A diet in calcium in necessary and helps to slow the rate of bone loss. Vitamin D is also essential as it enables calcium to be effectively absorbed by the body. Eating balanced diet that includes calcium and vitamin D- rich food is important in supplying the bones with the calcium required. Foods high in calcium include dairy products, dark green vegetables, beans, legumes, fish (especially sardines or salmon which are eaten with the bones) , soybean products , cereals and nuts . It is recommended that at least 100 mg of calcium is taken in each day. Food high in vitamin D includes sardines, tuna, egg and liver.
Exposure to sunlight
Regular but moderate exposure to sunlight helps to produce a vitamin D in the body. Note, excess sun exposure poses other health risks.
Reducing the risk of fractures
It is important to take extra care with movement and daily activities in order to minimize the risk of fractures. This can include using mobility aids if unsteady on feet, removing objects or hazards that can lead to falls.
Vitamin D improves your body’s ability to absorb calcium. Many people get adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight, but this may not be a good source if you live in high latitudes, if you’re housebound, or if you regularly use sunscreen or avoid the sun entirely because of the risk of skin cancer. Scientists don’t yet know the optimal daily dose of vitamin D. A good starting point for adults is 600 to 800 international units (IU) a day, through food or supplements. If your blood levels of vitamin D are low, your doctor may suggest higher doses. Teens and adults can safely take up to 4,000 international units (IU) a day.
Men and women between the ages of 18 and 50 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. This daily amount increases to 1,200 milligrams when women turn 50 and men turn 70. f you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your diet, consider taking calcium supplements. However, too much calcium has been linked to heart problems and kidney stones. The Institute of Medicine recommends that total calcium intake, from supplements and diet combined, should be no more than 2,000 milligrams daily for people older than 50.