What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that affects your bones. It is from Latin for “porous bones.” The inside of a healthy bone has small spaces, like a honeycomb.
Osteoporosis makes the spaces between the bones larger and causes your bone to lose strength and density. The outside of the bone gets weaker and thinner too.
Osteoporosis can happen to adults of any age. It is more common in older adults, especially women. More than 53 million people in the United States either have osteoporosis or are at high risk of developing it.
People with osteoporosis are at a high risk of fractures or bone breaks while doing routine activities such as standing or walking. The most commonly affected bones are the ribs, hips and the bones in the wrists and spine.
Osteoporosis is a condition where someone can break bones easily. The early stage of it does not show symptoms or warning signs. That means people who have it don’t know about it until they have a fracture. If there are any symptoms, some may be:
- receding gums
- weakened grip strength
- weak and brittle nails
Without treatment, osteoporosis will get worse. It can cause bones to become thinner and weaker. If the bone breaks, it is a big problem. This might happen if someone falls or if they cough or sneeze hard enough. Symptoms of severe osteoporosis include back or neck pain, losing height, and more.
Back or neck pain or a loss in height can be caused by a compression fracture. This is when one of your back or neck vertebrae breaks under the normal pressure from gravity.
If you have this, it will depend on many factors. These include where it is, how severe it is and your age and medical history.
Osteoporosis is a condition that has many causes. Some of them are medical. They include diseases such as hyperthyroidism and the use of some medications, like those for long-term oral or injected corticosteroids like prednisone or cortisone.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
The biggest risk factor for osteoporosis is age. The older you get, the more likely you are to get it. When people are young, their body breaks down old bones and builds new bones. But when they’re in their 30s, they break down bone much faster than they can build it back up.
That’s why people in their 30s are more likely to have osteoporosis because the bones aren’t as healthy or strong anymore and might break easily.
Menopause is a risk factor for osteoporosis. It happens between the ages of 45-55 years old. When women go through menopause, their bodies produce fewer hormones, and this causes bones to break more easily. Men still lose bone after age 45, but not as quickly as they do during menopause.
By the time people are 65-70 years old, they lose bone at the same rate no matter what sex or race they are. Other risk factors include having a family history of osteoporosis or being thin and having low calcium levels in their diet (which can happen when people don’t eat dairy).
Senile osteoporosis is not a different type. It’s just osteoporosis that happens because you are getting old. Bones get weaker when the body breaks them down more. This can lead to osteoporosis if things are not done to prevent it or make it better. For example, out of every 10 women who are 60 years old, one will have senile osteoporosis, and two-fifths of women who are 80 will have senile osteoporosis too.
If you have osteoporosis, your doctor will help you. Your doctor will prescribe medications and lifestyle changes, such as increasing your calcium and vitamin D intake, getting appropriate exercise. There is no cure for osteoporosis, but with treatment, it can be slowed down. Some treatments can help make new bone grow.
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There are many risk factors for osteoporosis that you cannot control. These include being female, getting older, and having a family history of osteoporosis. There are some factors, however, that do fall within your control.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become fragile and break easily. There are some things you can control to help prevent it:
- get the right amount of calcium and vitamin D each day
- do weight-bearing exercises
- stop smoking
- for women who may be at risk for developing osteoporosis – talk with your doctor about which medicine or therapy would be best