Osteoporosis: Symptoms, Treatment, Outlook
What Causes Osteoporosis?
- Certain medications, such as glucocorticoids, especially when used over a long time
- Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases
- Lifestyle factors such as smoking, excess alcohol intake, lack of activity, or poor diet
- Other medical conditions, including eating disorders, certain genetic diseases, and diseases that affect the hormones
What are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
- Pain in the low back and neck
- Stooped (bent forward) shoulders and upper back
- Gradual loss of height
- Bone fracture in the ribs, wrists, or hips
- Flattening or compression of the bones of the spine (vertebrae), which can lead to these bones breaking
- Older age
- Post-menopausal or having had a hysterectomy
- History of osteoporosis in a close relative
- Long-term treatment with glucocorticoids, a type of steroids
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Low intake of calcium or vitamin D
- Excessive alcohol use
- Poor nutrition or eating disorder
- Low levels of estrogen
- Frequent falls
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Excessive intake of caffeine
- Poor health or being frail
How Common is Osteoporosis?
How is Osteoporosis Diagnosed?
- Medical history
- Physical examination to look for signs of a deformed spine, loss of height, or tenderness in the spine.
- Blood tests to measure levels of calcium, vitamin D, and other compounds related to bone health.
- Bone mineral density (BMD) test. This is done using a type of x-ray test called a DEXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) scan. This is usually done to look at the hip or lower spine (lumbar).
- Other tests may be needed to rule out other underlying health conditions.
- Eyesight or hearing problems
- Memory or thinking difficulties
- Drop in blood pressure when coming to standing
- Use of sedative drugs
- Obstacles in the home that increase the risk of falls
Treatment and Prevention
- Getting enough calcium and vitamin D in the diet. The daily adult requirement for vitamin D is 800 to 1,000 International Units (IUs). For men aged 50 to 70, the daily calcium requirement is 1,000 milligrams; for women aged 51 or older and men 71 or older, it is 1,200 milligrams per day. Supplements may be used for some people.
- Weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises at least two times a week.
- Quitting smoking.
- Limiting your intake of alcohol and caffeine.
- Do weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises at least two times a week.
- Do regular balance training to reduce the risk of falls.
- Make changes in the home to reduce the risk of falls.
- Use walking aids, if needed.
- Correct vision problems.
- Reduce or stop taking sedative drugs.
- Include enough lean protein in your diet to keep the muscles strong.
- Osteoporosis is a silent disease. Many people will have no symptoms in the beginning, and sometimes a bone fracture is the first sign of disease.
- However, this condition is generally preventable and treatable. Simple lifestyle changes such as eating healthy and exercising can go a long way towards reducing your risk of osteoporosis. These will also slow down bone loss in people who already have this condition.
- There are also several medications and other treatments available for people with osteoporosis. In addition, regular osteoporosis screenings by your doctor as you get older can help catch this condition early on.
- Osteoporosis is a thinning and weakening of the bones. It is most commonly due to aging or hormonal changes after menopause. Other medical conditions can also cause osteoporosis.
- This condition is generally preventable and treatable. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and other lifestyle changes can help prevent osteoporosis, especially when these are started earlier in life.
- Lifestyle changes can also be used to treat this condition, along with medications and other medical treatments such as hormone replacement therapy.
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