As we age, bone loss occurs at an increasingly greater rate. This can lead to osteoporosis. Luckily, there are things we can do to slow down bone loss and lessen our risk of developing osteoporosis and its resultant deterioration.
When a person’s bone mass has reached a level at least 25 percent lower than normal (which is that of a person of the same age in good health). Two important processes with regard to the bones are formation and resorption. Formation is the creation of bone tissue, while resorption happens when bone tissue is removed from the bones.
Bone formation is most often strongest at the age of 30. People over 30 experience a slightly higher rate of resorption than formation. This is usually not apparent in the person’s health. This process is individualized and some people experience deterioration more rapidly than others as a result of slow formation or fast resorption. Eventually, this configuration can lead to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a serious disease and must be recognized as such. One of the most dangerous risks of osteoporosis is breaking a bone. Even a seemingly minor fall can be a serious occurrence, resulting in a fracture of the hips, spine, or wrists. This sort of injury can cause limited or completely lost mobility, and perhaps death.
Women constitute 80 percent of osteoporosis sufferers. In the United States, there are twelve million people who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Osteopenia is low bone density that, if ignored, can lead to osteoporosis.
What Are Osteoporosis’s Symptoms and Effects?
Osteoporosis is a “silent” disease. By the time most people notice any symptoms, the disease has already become serious. One of the visible signs of osteoporosis is a “shrinking” frame and height. This indicates the disease has entered an advanced state.
Untreated osteoporosis is very dangerous. It can lead to the following:
- Higher likelihood of fractures from incidents that would not cause such injuries in people with good bone health.
- Vertebrae fractures causing person to become shorter in stature.
- Kyphosis (severely rounded posture and curved spine)
- Severe back pain caused by posture changes or vertebral fractures.
- Severely limited mobility or independence caused by osteoporosis’s effects on the body.
Who Is Most Likely to Develop Osteoporosis?
Those of us most likely to develop osteoporosis are:
- Older people (especially women after menopause)
- Women who experienced menopause early, either naturally or as an effect of removal of the ovaries or specific cancer treatments (and certain treatments for other conditions).
- People who are fine-boned and small.
- Caucasian and Asian people
- People with a parent who has or has had frailty that caused fractures or osteoporosis.
- Those who have had broken bones and fractures during adulthood. The risk is higher if they occurred after the age of 50 and they were caused by a minor incident.
- Women who have an irregular menstrual cycle, or sometimes experience months without a period.
- People with low estrogen or testosterone levels.
- People suffering from anorexia nervosa.
- People who don’t consume sufficient vitamin D and calcium.
- People who have taken specific medications long-term. One of these medication types is corticosteroids.
- People with an insufficiently active lifestyle.
- People who are or have been long-time smokers.
- Heavy drinkers
You should take all possible steps to prevent bone loss. Seek to reduce your risk through making good lifestyle choices. Improve your diet, stop smoking if you are a smoker, and monitor the amount of alcohol you consume. If your doctor encourages you to do so, get bone mineral density scans. This will ascertain if you have experienced any bone loss, and if so, its extent.
If you and your doctor discover bone loss and it is ascertained your risk for osteoporosis is real, there are medications available that can assist in protecting and strengthening your bones and impeding the disease’s progression. Remember to reduce your risk of accidents, as fractures are very dangerous. Falls due to tripping and slipping can have serious consequences.
The most important thing you can do right now is learn about and understand osteoporosis. Bone loss can be prevented or reduced through gaining the right knowledge and working with your doctor. All of this is crucial to ensure your health and well-being.