According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), osteoporosis refers to the systemic reduction of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. This occurs when the body absorbs mineral nutrients from bones or when it fails to form sufficient amounts of new bone. Osteoporosis is quite common in the United States. One out of every five American women over the age of 50 suffers from osteoporosis. At this point in their lives (start of menopause), women usually experience very low levels of estrogen levels. Moreover, 50% of these women will suffer from wrist, hip or vertebra fractures as they age. For men, the condition usually strikes much later in life (70 years and above) when they experience a drop in testosterone levels.
The formation of human bones requires phosphate and calcium in sufficient amounts. Throughout one‚Äôs youth, the body synthesizes these minerals to form bones. Bone production suffers greatly if the body is not fed with enough calcium. The re-absorption of phosphate and calcium from bones as the body ages causes the bones to thin and weaken eventually leading to fragile and brittle bones. In most instances, a fracture occurs unnoticed. Osteoporosis is usually at an advanced stage when fractures start to occur.
Symptoms And Types
Osteoporosis does not have symptoms in its early stages. However, in advanced stages, it is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Fractures with little physical trauma
- Bone tenderness or pain
- Loss of height
- Back pains on the lower back
- Neck pain
- Stooped posture or dowager‚ hump
Diagnosis And Test
A bone density test is used to diagnose and test the amount of bone density in one‚ body. Health care providers use this test to predict future risk for bone fractures. Spine CT is used in some rare cases to pin point mineral density bone loss. A hip or spine x-ray is used in severe cases of osteoporosis to pinpoint collapse or fracture of the spinal bones. If a healthcare professional suspects that osteoporosis is due to a medical condition, he/she may order a urine or blood test.
Treatment And Care
Treatment for osteoporosis is aimed at controlling pain, slowing down or stopping bone loss, preventing bone fractures and minimizing falls. Treatment also involves a variety of medications such as bisphosphonates, calcitonin, parathyroid hormone and raloxifene. Regular exercise, a calcium-rich diet and avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking will greatly reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis damage begins much earlier in a patient's life. At the age of 25 years, the body has already attained its peak bone density. It is important to maintain a healthy intake of calcium by this age so that you can develop strong bones and minimize the risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.