Symptoms, Risk Factors, And Prevention Of Osteoporosis, A Condition In Which Bones Become Weak
As you age, regeneration of tissues in your body becomes slower. When it comes to bone tissue, you start to gradually lose the bone mass in your thirties. Over time, bone loss may lead to a condition known as osteoporosis. In osteoporosis, your bones become weaker and more fragile and prone to fractures.
It’s not clear how many people have osteoporosis, but it’s fairly common among older people. Even more seniors now have osteopenia, in which bones also become weaker, but to a lesser degree than in osteoporosis.
Women who have entered menopause are especially prone to this condition. Once a woman reaches menopause, she starts to lose bone mass at a higher rate. This happens because estrogen production decreases dramatically during menopause.
Some degree of bone loss is inevitable, but this process can be slowed down with dietary changes, regular exercise, and other measures.
Symptoms of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis usually shows no symptoms at the beginning.
As the condition gets worse, the following symptoms may appear:
- back pain due to spinal compression fractures;
- a decrease in height;
- a slumped posture;
- bone fractures as a result of impact that wouldn’t break a healthy bone.
Factors that increase the risk of osteoporosis
Some factors can put you at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. They include:
- advanced age;
- gender: The chances of developing osteoporosis are higher for women than for men;
- race: Caucasians and Asians are more likely to develop osteoporosis;
- in women, decreased levels of estrogen due to menopause or other reasons;
- in men, decreased levels of testosterone;
- having a close blood relative who has or had osteoporosis;
- a low BMI;
- a diet that lacks calcium, vitamin D, and protein;
- prolonged use of certain medicines, including corticosteroids and anticonvulsants;
- health conditions that interfere with the absorption of nutrients, e.g. celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease;
- lack of physical activity;
- smoking and alcohol abuse.
If you’re at an increased risk of osteoporosis, ask your doctor what you can do to keep your bones healthy.
Is it possible to prevent osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis can be prevented if you start taking measures to maintain your bone health as early as possible. The following can help you prevent the condition or at least lower your risk of getting it:
- eat a balanced diet with enough foods rich in vitamin D, calcium, and protein;
- don’t smoke and limit alcohol;
- exercise regularly to improve balance and muscle strength;
- maintain a healthy weight;
- if you are menopausal, ask your doctor about benefits and drawbacks of hormone therapy as it can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.