Osteoporosis (Oste bone) or porous bones, is a disease in which bone loss occurs, so that bones become weak and fragile making them more likely to break even with a slight impact. Without diagnosis and subsequent treatment, osteoporosis can progress without pain or symptoms until a bone breaks (fractures). Fractures commonly occur in the hip, spine, ribs, and wrist.

What causes Osteoporosis?

Bones may seem like hard and lifeless structures, but they are in fact living tissue. Old bone is constantly broken down (through a process called bony resorption) by our bodies, and new bone is deposited. Any time bone is broken down faster than it is deposited, low bone mass (osteopenia) and osteoporosis can occur. Factors that can lead to the disease can be
identified as

Ageing:  Everyone loses bone with age. After 35, the body builds less new bone to replace the loss of old bone. In general, the older you are, the lower your total bone mass and the greater your risk for osteoporosis.

Heredity: A family history of fractures; a small, slender body: fair skin; and a Caucasian or Asian background can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Heredity may also help explain why some people develop osteoporosis early in life.

Nutrition and lifestyle: Poor nutrition, including a low calcium diet, low body weight and a sedentary lifestyle have been linked to osteoporosis, as have smoking and excessive alcohol use.

Medications and other illnesses: Osteoporosis has been linked to some medications, including steroids, and to other illnesses, including some thyroid problems

What are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?

In many people,any symptoms. Hence, people dont realize that they have it. Certain signs that can be looked for are

  • Bone pain in the hip, arm or wrist
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Loss of height and a stooped posture
  • Neck pain
  • Fractures at a slight impact, even without falling

When Does Osteoporosis Occur?

Osteoporosis can occur at any age. However, it is more common in people over 50 years, and the older a person is, the greater the risk of osteoporosis. For women, bone loss is fastest in the first few years after the menopause around 40-45 years of age), because of changes in the hormonal levels. In men, rapid bone loss occurs at 65-70 years of age.

Risk factors for Osteoporosis

Certain risk factors are associated with developing osteoporosis, which include

  • Age: The older a person is, the greater the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Physical build: People who are small and have thin bones are at greater risk.
  • Race: White and Asian women are at the highest risk.
  • Sex: Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.
  • Family history: If a person’s parents had osteoporosis, he or she may be at risk.
  • Being underweight
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Low calcium diet
  • Medication: Corticosteroids, diuretics, medications for blood pressure etc.
  • Cigarette smoking

How is Osteoporosis Detected?

Unfortunately, many people do not know they have osteoporosis until they experience a broken bone. By that time, bones are already weak. However, osteoporosis can be prevented or delayed by early detection and treatment

Specialized tests called Bone Mineral Density Test, measure bone density (solidness) at various sites of the body, such as the hip, spine, and wrist. The test is quick, painless, and noninvasive. A bone density test can detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs and can predict your chances of having a broken bone in the future. DEXA, A dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scan
of bone can determine your rate of bone loss and/or monitor the effects of treatment. This can also be followed by a blood test to detect calcium levels in the body.

How Can Osteoporosis Be Prevented?

Osteoporosis is prevented by reaching the peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength) during the childhood and teenage years and by continuing to build more bone as one gets older, particularly after the age of 30. A few things which can be done to maintain healthy bones are as follows:

  • Take sufficient calcium and vitamin D by drinking milk or eating milk products
  • Good sources of calcium are Dairy products (e.g. milk, cheese, yogurt), green leafy vegetables, nuts (especially almonds), and seafood. Vitamin D is obtained from eggs, liver or by spending I5 minutes in the sun 2-3 times a
  • Exercise: Weight-bearing exercises such as low impact aerobics, climbing stairs, running and swimming helps keep your bones strong.
  • Do not smoke
  • Avoid excessive intake of alcohol.
  • Avoid caffeine and meat to
  • conserve calcium

How can Osteoporosis be treated?

Prevention is the best option for Osteoporosis. However, the bone mass can be maintained and increased by increasing calcium and vitamin D intake either through food or supplements. Your doctor can also guide you with the treatment options.

Osteoporosis: Indian Scenario

  • 1 out of 3 females in India suffers from osteoporosis
  • 1 out of 8 males in India suffers from osteoporosis
  • 30 crore Indians are suffering from osteoporosis making India one of the largest affected countries in the world.
  • 1 In the next 10 years, there will be a 50% increase in the number of people with osteoporosis in India
  • Osteoporosis is responsible for more than I.5 million fractures annually.

A good diet together with nutritional supplements containing Calcium and Vitamin D3 helps to maintain the bone mineral density, thus making bones stronger

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