When bone mineral density and bone mass diminish, or when the structure and strength of bone alter, osteoporosis occurs. The result may be weakened bones and an increased risk of fractures (broken bones).
So, what is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is called a "silent illness" because it seldom causes and osteoporosis symptoms and may go undetected until a fracture occurs. In postmenopausal women and men of advanced age, osteoporosis is the leading cause of fragility fractures. While every bone in the body is at risk, the hip, spine, and wrist are particularly vulnerable.
But there are things you may do to lessen your risk of contracting the illness and breaking a bone:
Is Osteoporosis Common?
People of all racial and cultural backgrounds, including both sexes, are susceptible to developing osteoporosis. While osteoporosis may affect people of any age, the likelihood of them having the condition rises with age. Symptoms often appear a year or two before menopause for most women. Other things to think about are:
Many males disregard their own risk for osteoporosis since the illness is more common among women. However, osteoporosis is a threat to elderly men and women of all races and ethnicities.
Idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis affects a small percentage of children and teenagers. Although the reason is unknown, the majority of youngsters will get well without any therapy.
Because of the lack of osteoporosis symptoms, until a bone is shattered, osteoporosis is sometimes referred to as a "silent" illness. Vertebral (spinal) fractures may cause significant discomfort in the back, a drop in stature, or spinal deformities including a hunched or stooped posture (kyphosis).
Causes of Osteoporosis
Too much bone mass loss coupled with alterations to the bone tissue's structure leads to osteoporosis. The probability of developing osteoporosis may be increased by exposure to certain risk factors.
In many cases, many risk factors contribute to the development of osteoporosis; yet, in other cases, no known risk factors may be present. You may or may not be able to alter certain risk factors, while others are beyond your control. However, if you are aware of these osteoporosis causes, you may be able to avoid both the sickness and the fractures.
Risk factors for osteoporosis include:
For women, the risk of having osteoporosis is higher. Men tend to have larger bones and a higher peak bone mass than women. Men, particularly those over the age of 70, are still vulnerable.
Loss of bone density and the rate at which new bone is formed both accelerate with age. A person's chance of developing osteoporosis rises with the onset of old age because of the gradual weakening of bone tissue.
Condition of the body
A higher incidence of osteoporosis is seen in people of smaller stature because their bones are more fragile.
The danger is greatest for women of white and Asian descent. Minority women, such as those of African American or Mexican American descent, are in reduced danger. There is a greater danger for white males than for black or Mexican American men.
The risk of getting osteoporosis is increased in those with low levels of specific hormones. Consider the following as an illustration:
Osteoporosis and fractures are more likely to occur in those whose diets were deficient in calcium and vitamin D beginning in infancy and continuing into old life. The risk of bone loss and osteoporosis may rise with excessive dieting or a protein-poor diet.
Other health issues
Other endocrine and hormonal illnesses, gastrointestinal ailments, rheumatoid arthritis, some forms of cancer, HIV/AIDS, and anorexia nervosa all raise the risk of osteoporosis and may be treatable or manageable.
Maintaining bone density may require a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Lack of exercise and sitting around for extended periods of time both lead to bone loss. Another danger associated with these behaviors is an increase in the likelihood of injury from a fall.
Heavy alcohol use over a long period of time increases the likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
Visit your doctor if you fear you may be at risk for or already have osteoporosis. Preventing bone fractures as you age is possible if osteoporosis is treated early. If you or a close relative has osteoporosis or if you have ever broken a bone, no matter how little, it is important to discuss this with your doctor.