Osteoporosis is a common bone disease that affects 53 million people in the United States. It affects the bones and causes them to become weakened to the point that a fall, a cough, or a simple body movement can cause them to break and take months to heal.
The inside of our bones resembles a honeycomb with tiny spaces. Osteoporosis increases the size of these holes between our bones, and this causes our bones to lose strength.
WHAT CAUSES OSTEOPOROSIS
Your parathyroid hormones are vital in regulating your bone density. When a person has too much of this hormone in their system, called hyperparathyroidism, it causes a significant drop in calcium levels, which is important for bone strength.
Estrogen is a hormone in a woman’s body that protects the bones, and as women age and their body undergoes changes due to menopause, their levels of estrogen drop dramatically and can cause bone loss.
Lack of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential to good bone and muscle health. Without a sufficient intake of this source of calcium, people run the risk of developing weak bones. Additionally, other skeletal deformities may appear.
Drinking alcohol decreases the amount of estrogen in a woman’s body, and it also increases the amount of the parathyroid hormone in both males and females. As you know, the increase in this particular hormone is connected to bone health, and too much of it is a bad thing. Additionally, alcohol consumption also kills off osteoblast cells, or the cells directly responsible for making new bone cells.
Steroids may also contribute to loss of bone strength. They can reduce the amount of calcium absorbed in the gut, while also increasing calcium loss centered throughout the body’s kidneys. When you are taking steroids, your doctor may decide to combine this treatment with vitamin D tablets to ward off the effects steroids can have on your bone density.
TYPES OF OSTEOPOROSIS
Primary osteoporosis most commonly affects women who have already gone through menopause. It is caused because of an increase in the number of osteoclasts, which are cells that reabsorb bone matter. Estrogen levels lower when a woman ages and one of estrogen's most important functions is to control the osteoclast. When estrogen levels fall and can no longer keep osteoclasts in check, they run rampant and affect our bones.
Secondary or Senile
This second type of osteoporosis affects both men and women. It is caused by a medical condition, certain medications, or improper hormone levels in the body.
POPULATIONS AT RISK
Skinnier people are at a greater risk of developing osteoarthritis because they have less bone available to lose.
Caucasian and Asian populations have a higher risk of contracting osteoporosis than Hispanic or African populations.
Certain medical problems or medications can also have a significant role in contributing to the risk of osteoporosis. These include being overweight, having an overactive thyroid, celiac disease, and multiple myeloma.
Women who are over the age of 50 are much more likely than men of the same age to develop osteoporosis. This is because women’s bones tend to be lighter and thinner than their male counterparts.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF OSTEOPOROSIS
There are several signs and symptoms that are present when it comes to osteoporosis. Signs of a disease are the things that others besides the patient can see, such as a bruise on the skin, whereas symptoms usually feel that a patient reports that they are experiencing.
Common signs and symptoms of osteoporosis include:
•A fracture after completing a simple movement
•Weak grip strength
Bisphosphonates are a type of drug that helps to prevent bone loss. These medications are the first choice for treatment when it comes to treating osteoporosis. There are a variety of medication options, and these can be taken either orally or through an intravenous infusion quarterly or annually.
Another common treatment used for this disease are bone-building medications. The best candidates for these types of drugs are those who are suffering from osteoporosis due to steroid medication or people who have low bone density. These drugs are given through daily or monthly injections. Generally, a person will be given these shots for a period of one or two years. The bone-building medications effect will wear off after treatment ends, so your physician must continue with an alternative therapy, such as bisphosphonates, to continue seeing results.
Eating foods that are high in calcium while on any needed medications is another treatment option available. Adults who are 19-50 years old should take in about 1000 milligrams of calcium daily, while adults who are 51 and over need a little bit more, about 1200 milligrams of calcium, daily. Foods that you should include in your diet include yogurt, non-fat milk, orange juice, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Certain weight-bearing exercises, such as running, walking, or aerobics, can help to build bone strength. Additionally, engaging in daily muscle-strengthening activities is another way you can keep your bones strong and healthy. Good muscle-strengthening exercises you should focus on include:
•Elastic exercise bands
•Standing and rising on toes
Since alcohol intake and smoking are common risk factors for bone loss, avoiding these two things all together is a good idea. If you do drink, it’s best to limit your intake to no more than two drinks per day. Along with these lifestyle changes, eating a diet that is rich in calcium, and adding exercise to your daily routine, is a great way to help with and or reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a disease that can affect both children and adults, with women being the highest group at risk. It is something that can be extremely painful, but it can be prevented through a proper diet that is rich in vitamin D and calcium, regular daily exercise that targets the bones and muscles, and avoiding certain medications that are known to cause the disorder.