Osteoporosis is a disease of the bone system that can be caused by bone decalcification, vitamin D deficiency, or genetic factors. It occurs when bony parts undergo wear to their internal microstructure, reducing their density and support capacity. Read this article to learn more about osteoporosis.
When osteoporosis occurs, the risk of fractures increases, and inflammatory reactions and severe pains are generated.
Although osteoporosis is a common condition in the elderly, some may suffer from it prematurely due to injuries or habits that deteriorate the bones.
The most troubling fact is that many still don’t know how serious it can be, and due to the absence of symptoms, they are unaware of their condition.
For this reason it’s essential to know how osteoporosis develops. If you have any of the risk factors, you should consult your doctor.
1. Risk factors
Weakening of the bones usually occurs because of low calcium and vitamin D absorption, especially upon reaching old age.
- Deficiency of these nutrients reduces bone density and can cause fractures and irreversible damage in the face of injuries or illnesses.
- This situation can occur because of genetic factors, although it is also associated with the hormonal changes that are suffered in adulthood.
- Excessive consumption of tobacco and alcohol also influence the development of osteoporosis.
- The decrease in estrogen levels during and after menopause is another related cause.
- You are more likely to develop this disease if you suffer from anorexia or bulimia.
Unfortunately, this disease is what is known as a “silent enemy”– it does not manifest itself with obvious symptoms until it becomes a more serious problem.
- Oftentimes, detection occurs when a person has a fracture before she knows that she is suffering from the disease.
- This injury can occur without any significant trauma or injuries taking place.
- It is possible to suspect the presence of osteoporosis when a person loses to 2-3 inches or more in height.
- Some people develop what is known as “Widow’s Hump,” a condition characterized by hunched posture.
To detect the disease, a medical study called BMD, which consists of measuring bone mineral density, should be performed.
- It is a low-radiation x-ray that does not take much time to carry out, nor does it cause pain.
- Perusal of the spine and hip may indicate a fracture.
- Common x-rays of other bones are usually not as accurate to know if this condition exists.
While there are many factors that can lead to their development, the continuous practice of healthy habits is decisive to minimize the risks.
- Thus, it is essential to ensure optimal absorption of calcium and vitamin D by including foods that contain these vitamins in your diet.
- The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends the intake of 1000 mg of calcium per day for adults, and 1200 mg per day for women over 50 years old and men over 70 years old.
- You should limit your consumption of sodium and saturated fats, as they hinder calcium absorption.
- It’s important to increase the absorption of magnesium, as it also helps to conserve bone density.
- Daily exercise is very beneficial, since it serves to strengthen bones and improve coordination and balance.
Check out this article: The Differences between Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, and Osteoporosis
5. Medication to stop or reverse the problem
Currently, there are drugs to fight bone density loss, which helps avoid serious problems such as fractures.
- Among these are bisphosphonates, which prevent bone wasting by inactivating cells known as osteoclasts, which absorb bone tissue.
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements are also recommended, especially when food absorption is difficult.
- Estrogen treatments help prevent and combat the disease in the case of menopausal women.
6. Side effects of treatment
Although drugs for treating this disease may be effective, it’s important to know that, in most cases, continued use of them may cause side effects.
Among the side effects are:
- Joint and muscular pain
- Esophageal damage
- Arrhythmias and heart palpitations
On the other hand, we should mention that although they can treat osteoporosis effectively, the drugs mentioned above have a “deadline” to take effect. This means that after about 3 years, it is necessary to analyze how much these medicines have helped, and what negative effects they may have had.
In certain cases, it’s necessary to halt consumption of medication for a time since continued use is dangerous.
The best way to cope with osteoporosis is prevention and knwoledge about osteoporosis. For this reason, if you have any risk factors, get a bone densitometry done periodically.