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Osteoporosis

What Is It?


According to the NIH, osteoporosis is a type of bone disease that occurs when bone mineral density and mass diminish or when the quality or structure of the bone changes. This condition can result in a loss of bone strength, increasing the risk of breaking a bone. It’s known as a silent disease because the person might not know they have it until they experience a fracture. These fractures most likely occur on a person's vertebrae, hip, spine, and wrists.


Who Is at Risk?


The most at risk of getting osteoporosis tend to be on the older side. For women, this can begin to develop two years after menopause. The Cleveland Clinic states that menopause reduces estrogen production, a hormone that protects against severe bone loss. Men are likewise affected by age and osteoporosis. Men over 50 are more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than develop prostate cancer. They had a higher chance of dying a year after a hip fracture than women. The people affected by the disease can also depend on ethnicity, body weight, and other underlying health conditions.

These can include but are not limited to celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple myeloma, and an overactive thyroid.



Image Courtesy of PBS


Symptoms and causes of osteoporosis


Some symptoms of osteoporosis can include:

  • The loss of height

  • Lower back pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • An overall change of posture

  • Fractures in bones


A contributing factor to how osteoporosis is caused is finding “holes” in the healthy bone. The appearance inside the healthy bone appears to look like a “sponge.” Finding more holes within the spongy area of the bone implies the bone has become weakened. Bones store calcium and other minerals, and when the body needs calcium, they break down and rebuild bone.


According to the CDC ways to improve one’s bone health if they have osteoporosis includes:

  • Taking the medication prescribed to strengthen bones

  • Avoid smoking

  • To limit alcohol

  • Having a healthy diet including an appropriate amount of calcium and vitamin D


How Is it diagnosed?


The disease may be diagnosed by bone mineral density (BMD) tests. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA) scans are another name for BMD tests. They are used to measure the strength of the bones in target areas. The X-rays use very low amounts of radiation. Only until the condition has developed considerably can regular X-rays reveal osteoporosis.


Treatments


Various types of drugs are used to treat osteoporosis, and the best one could be unique to the person. The different types of treatments, such as hormone-related therapies or bisphosphonates, stop the body from reabsorbing bone tissue. In addition to medication, patients may take supplements to improve bone health.




Article Author: Idil Gure

Article Editors: Edie Whittington, Stephanie Sahadeo