Osteoporosis- Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What is Osteoporosis?

The space within the bones is like a honeycomb. This is very innately formed structure. This space inside the bones expands in a case of Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis means “porous bones”. The bones become hollow from inside. This makes the bones weaker and increases the risk of fracture. The risk of fracture increases in the hip, spinal, vertebrae and wrist.

This problem of bone density is majorly found more among women than among men. The reason behind this could be the process of menopause that the body of a woman undergoes. Also, women are more prone to calcium deficiency due to pregnancies and menopause and also menstrual cycles. This makes them more vulnerable to this disorder than men.

Having said that, poor lifestyle, smoking habits, alcoholism can also lead to the problem of osteoporosis among men.

4 Symptoms of Osteoporosis:

The symptoms of this bone disorder is not very prominent. One may often fail to realize the presence of this bone problem until an occurrence of a fracture. For those who may have symptoms of Osteoporosis, will notice the following changes in their body:

1. Receding Gums:

The gums of your teeth begin to weaken.  As a result the develop problems like swelling and bleeding. Thus this symptom is characterized by an overall deterioration of gums over a period of time.

2. Weekend Grip Strength:

The main job of your gum is to hold the teeth in its place and also together. This job may not be performed efficiently if the gums begin to recede. Receding gums will slowly lose their grip over the teeth. This may lead to breaking of teeth as well.

3. Weak and Brittle Nails:

It is easy to identify if your nails are weak. They will turn yellow and pale. Their natural colour will become off-yellow. They will also chip a lot. You may fail in your attempts to have perfect manicure material nails as they may chip before they can grow long enough for you to have a manicure.

4. A Fracture:

As we read above, osteoporosis does not have any such indicative symptoms for someone to be able to recognize the he/she has the problem. This is true until the person suffers a fracture. Now a patient of osteoporosis need not suffer from some major accident to contract a fracture. Because of weaker bones, the fracture may develop into the affected bone by a simple collision with an object, or mild falling or in severe cases of osteoporosis, even due to a heavy cough or sneeze. The bone may break due to any such petty reason. When your bone breaks as a result of such a minor reason, you have osteoporosis problem.

Causes of Osteoporosis:

 1. Age:

The wear and tear of your body continues for as long as you live. Similarly, your old bones degenerate and new bones replace the old ones. This process continues for as long as you live but it slows down after the age of 30 years. The bones breakdown faster than they are reconstructed. This may create an imbalance and also lead to osteoporosis. This is the reason behind doctors prescribing calcium supplements to women who cross their 30 years of age.

2. Osteoporosis caused due to Menopause:

Menopause is that phase of a women’s life when she stops menstruating. She does not get her monthly cycles any more. This happens around the age of 45-55 years. This phase is a duration of a riot of hormonal changes in her body. These hormonal changes are responsible for loss of bone at a higher rate than it is being formed. During this phase she may contract osteoporosis if she does not have enough calcium in her body.

Men continue to lose bone at this age, but at a slower rate than women do. However, by the time they reach the ages of 65 to 70, women and men are usually losing bone at the same rate.

3. Medical Conditions leading to Osteoporosis:

If you have a medical condition like hyperthyroidism, you are at a greater risk of contracting osteoporosis. The medications to treat this condition are such that they may induce the problem of osteoporosis as a side effect.

Risk Factors Leading to Osteoporosis:

The factors that could put you at an increased risk of suffering from this disorder are as stated under:

1. Gender:

As we’ve seen, women are more prone to having the problem of osteoporosis than men. Factors like menstrual cycles, menopause, delivering children, puts a woman at more risk of having calcium deficiency and decreased bone density.

2. Age:

Being older is also a risk factor. As we already read, the bone degenerates faster after a certain age and thus old age puts a person to more risk of having this problem.

3. Having a Family History of Osteoporosis:

Having a family history of osteoporosis can make you more vulnerable to this problem. Though it is not necessary that you will have osteoporosis if someone in your family has it, you still can take precautionary measures for the same.

4. Smoking and Unhealthy Life Style:

If women are at a risk of osteoporosis because having gender related problems, men also may have this problem due to excessive smoking and an unhealthy life style. Alcoholism and less nutritious diet may induce this problem too.

Diagnosis of Osteoporosis:

In order to diagnose this problem, your doctor may ask you for a medical history. You may also be asked to have your blood and urine tested to check for the bone loss. The doctor may also suggest a bone density test to diagnose this problem.

This test is called bone densitometry, or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). It uses X-rays to measure the density of the bones in your wrists, hips, or spine. These are the three areas most at risk of osteoporosis.

Treatment of Osteoporosis:

If your tests indicate that you have osteoporosis, your doctor will prescribe the requisite medications to treat this disorder. The doctor also suggests changes in the lifestyle of the patient wherein the patient is recommended to be more careful of any accidents that may cause the bone to break.

The medications are mainly provided to supplement for the deficiency of calcium and Vitamin D in your body. You may also want to consume food which is high in Vitamin D to support your treatment with the requisite nutrient.

There’s no permanent cure for osteoporosis, but proper treatment can help protect and strengthen your bones. With proper exercises and medications coupled with a good diet, the bone generation in your body will improve. Check out the food items which are Rich in Calcium as well. These treatments can help slow the breakdown of bone in your body, and some treatments can spur the growth of new bone.

Though Osteoporosis does not have a permanent cure, patients with this problem may lead a normal life. All thanks to Science and Medication, it becomes easy for the patients to carry out their daily physical activity without any serious constraints. Avail proper medications and also bring out the changes suggested by the doctor in your food and way of life.

Shabnam Vandeliwala

Venturing into writing is my second most admired hobby after litigating in courts. An advocate by profession, writing gives me immense sense of satisfaction especially in the time that I'm free from other work.

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