Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones and increases the risk of fractures. It affects millions of people worldwide and is more common in women than men, particularly women who are postmenopausal. This condition is often referred to as the “silent disease” because it often has no symptoms until a fracture occurs. In this article, we will delve into the causes and symptoms of osteoporosis and discuss how to address them.
Causes of Osteoporosis
- Osteoporosis is caused by a loss of bone mass and a deterioration of bone tissue. This can occur due to a variety of factors, including:
- Age: As people age, their bones become less dense and more brittle, making them more susceptible to fractures. After the age of 30, bone loss accelerates, particularly in women who have gone through menopause.
- Genetics: Osteoporosis tends to run in families. If you have a family history of the condition, you may be more likely to develop it.
- Hormones: Hormones play a key role in bone health. Changes in hormone levels, such as a decrease in estrogen levels in women after menopause, can contribute to the development of osteoporosis.
- Lifestyle factors: Certain lifestyle factors can increase the risk of osteoporosis. These include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, a diet low in calcium and vitamin D, and a sedentary lifestyle.
- Medical conditions and medications: Certain medical conditions, such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, can contribute to the development of osteoporosis. Additionally, some medications, such as glucocorticoids, can cause bone loss
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
As mentioned earlier, osteoporosis is often called a “silent disease” because it often has no symptoms until a fracture occurs. However, there are some signs that may indicate the presence of osteoporosis, including:
- Loss of height: Osteoporosis can cause the bones in the spine to collapse, resulting in a loss of height.
- Back pain: Fractures in the vertebrae can cause severe back pain.
- Rounded shoulders: As the spine collapses, the shoulders may become rounded, and the upper back may become hunched.
- Fractures: Osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures, particularly in the hip, wrist, and spine. A bone fracture can be the first sign of osteoporosis.
How to Address Osteoporosis
There are several steps you can take to address osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fractures. These include:
- Get enough calcium and vitamin D: Calcium and vitamin D are essential for strong bones. Calcium is needed for the formation and maintenance of bones, while vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. You can get calcium from dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods. Vitamin D can be obtained from exposure to sunlight, fortified foods, and supplements.
- Exercise regularly: Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, and weightlifting, can help strengthen bones. Exercise also helps improve balance, which can reduce the risk of falls and fractures.
- Quit smoking: Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. If you smoke, quitting can help improve your bone health.
- Limit alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can weaken bones and increase the risk of fractures. Women should limit their alcohol intake to one drink per day, while men should limit their intake to two drinks per day.
- Eat a healthy diet: In addition to getting enough calcium and vitamin D, it’s important to eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. A diet that is high in processed foods and saturated fat can contribute to bone loss.
- Take medications as prescribed: There are several medications that can be used to treat osteoporosis, including bisphosphonates, denosumab, and teriparatide. These medications can help slow or even reverse bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures. It’s important to take these medications as prescribed and to follow up with your healthcare provider regularly.
- Fall-proof your home: Falls are a common cause of fractures in people with osteoporosis. To reduce the risk of falls, it’s important to fall-proof your home. This includes removing trip hazards, such as loose rugs and electrical cords, installing handrails on stairs and in the bathroom, and using non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower.
In conclusion, osteoporosis is a common condition that can increase the risk of fractures, particularly in women who are postmenopausal. While it’s often called the “silent disease” because it often has no symptoms until a fracture occurs, there are steps you can take to address osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fractures. By getting enough calcium and vitamin D, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, eating a healthy diet, taking medications as prescribed, and fall-proofing your home, you can help maintain bone health and reduce the risk of fractures. If you have concerns about osteoporosis or are at increased risk, talk to your healthcare provider about screening and prevention strategies.
About The Author
Dr. Krisca is a highly-educated and skilled physician who has obtained a BS Public Health degree from the University of the Philippines Manila and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the De La Salle Medical Health Sciences Institute. She is a licensed physician and also a Registered Medical Technologist. She has received additional training in Hemodialysis for Non-Nephro Physicians on duty and has completed online courses in related fields like depression in populations from John Hopkins University and positive psychiatry from The University of Sydney. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of International Health in the University of the Philippines.
Dr. Krisca is known for her outstanding skills and compassionate approach to healthcare that make a positive impact on people’s lives. Through her passion for healthcare, she hopes to make a difference in the world and help people lead healthier, happier lives.