What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a progressive disorder. It occurs when the body produces less bone than it destroys causing increased bone fragility and increased risk of fractures.
It causes no symptoms and often goes undiagnosed until a fracture occurs.
The amount of bone generated changes throughout our life.
In adolescence there is rapid deposition of calcium causing a marked increase in bone mass to a peak level reached between 30 and 40 years. For the next few years there is little change, and then there is the inevitable fall in bone density as more bone is destroyed than made.
This decline is more or less linear in men but in women there is a rapid decrease after the menopause as a result of falling oestrogen levels. Post menopausal women have a significantly reduced bone density.
Who is at risk?
Genetics and lifestyle both play an important role in Osteoporosis.
Risk factors include:-
- A strong family history
- An early menopause (before 45)
- Suffering a fracture after a relatively minor trauma
- Treatment with corticosteroids
- Low calcium intake
- Lack of load bearing exercise
- Suffered from anorexia nervosa
- High alcohol intake
- Coeliac disease and other mal absorption diseases
- Certain cancer treatments
Prevention and treatment
Only if you know you have it can you begin to treat it.
The earlier it is detected, the easier it is to treat.
Lifestyle changes form the basis for both prevention and first line treatment for reduced bone density:
Reduce alcohol intake
Eat a health balanced diet containing adequate calcium and vitamin D
Increase exercise, especially weight bearing exercise.
There are various drug treatments and supplements available. These would need to be discussed with your doctor.