World Osteoporosis Day | Love Your Bones

1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men aged 50 years and above, are estimated to suffer from osteoporosis. Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds.

Osteoporosis is a bone condition that causes the bone to become porous. The condition is caused when the bones loses density and become weak. Osteoporotic bones contain abnormal tissue structure, causing it to become fragile.

Human bones are living tissues that are constantly changing. The old bone is broken, removed and new bone is created. This is an activity that occurs in the body from the time of birth until the person has reach young adulthood. At 30 years of age an individual is said to have reached peak bone mass.

Your chances of developing osteoporosis depends on the amount of bone mass you have attained in your young age. The higher your bone mass, the less likely you are to develop the condition. Osteoporosis occurs when there is a significant imbalance between the breaking down of old bones and formation of the new. Calcium and phosphate are two essential substances required in bone formation. Calcium is also an important mineral in keeping the essential organs of the body functioning, when these organs require calcium, the body tends to absorb calcium stored in bones for the same. Inadequate supply of calcium to the body through food results in issue in bone production, making the bones weak and fragile.

The condition affects both men and women, although it is most common in older women. Gender, age and family history are risk factors for osteoporosis that an individual has no control over. The risk of developing the condition increases with age.

Osteoporosis is also called the silent disease, because people are often unaware of its presence until the condition has progressed to a serious stage.

There are various causative or risk factors leading to the condition, they are:

  • Poor lifestyle habits including heavy alcohol consumption, unhealthy dietary practices, low calcium diet, etc. are major risk factors for osteoporosis.

  • Bone density of people with high levels of thyroid hormones are linked to increase in bone lose.

  • The bones tend to become weak and brittle if they are not put to use. People with sedentary lifestyles and physical inactivity tend to suffer from the condition because there is no bone activity. Gentle stress needs to be exerted on the bones.

  • Smoking is one of the major risk factors for all severe health conditions. Nicotine has a direct impact on bone cells by reducing is ability to use calcium, vitamin D and the necessary hormones.

  • Estrogen deficiency in women is the most common cause of osteoporosis in women. A woman, once she reaches menopause experiences a quick drop in estrogen, hence accelerating bone loss. Testosterone deficiency in men leads to osteoporosis.

  • Medical conditions resulting in removal of ovaries in women may also cause osteoporosis.

Symptoms of osteoporosis are only visible or experienced once the condition progresses to a later stage. However, in the later course of the diseases, an individual may experience sharp pain in the bones or muscle, neck pain, lower back pain etc. These pains may also get worse upon exertion of pressure to that particular area. Stooped posture, or a fracture of the hip, wrist or spine requires immediate medical attention.

Any of these warning signs should alert you to consult with a specialist in order to understand the root cause of the condition and to rule out possibilities of Osteopenia, a mid point that ultimately leads to osteoporosis. In this condition the bones are weak but not to an extent that they break easy like in Osteoporosis. These conditions occur usually after the age of 50 and not before that.

Diagnosis of osteoporosis usually occurs only after a fall or a fracture. There is no means to prevent osteoporosis, although the health of your bone is your responsibility. There are modifiable risk factors that are under your control and can be controlled at an individual level. Eating healthy food and working out regularly are essential lifestyle changes that need to be made early in life in order to prevent any health complications.

Exercises like brisk walking, running and even dancing in which your legs bear your body weight will strengthen the bones. Prevention of osteoporosis requires muscle strengthening exercises to support the muscles and surrounding bones. Moderate physical activity of 30 minutes for a minimum of 5 times per week is recommended. A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D will help improve bone health, and this is the easiest step towards ensuring healthy bones at any stage in life. Food products like diary, salmon, green leafy vegetables must be made a part of your diet, however it is recommended to consult with a physician in order to understand your body requirements.

Treatment options for osteoporosis may also include medications which a specialist may prescribe depending on the extent of weakened bones. Osteoporosis is a condition that cannot be reversed but can be effectively managed. Hormone medications, vitamin D and calcium supplements are also prescribed depending on the severity of the condition.

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