Osteoporosis Information


Health condition


Bone loss occurs without symptoms. People may not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump, or fall causes a hip fracture.

Some people lose so much bone, it causes weak areas to develop in the skeletal structure like the hips, forearms, and especially the spine which can fracture easily. A minor injury or even fall can create a fracture, or the bones may crack under the body’s own weight and vertebra to collapse. Collapsed vertebra may initially be felt or seen in the form of severe back pain, loss of height, or spinal deformities such as kyphosis, or severely stooped posture.

Detection. Following a comprehensive medical assessment, your doctor may recommend that you have your bone mass measured. Bone mineral density (BMD) tests measure bone density in the spine, wrist, and/or hip (the most common sites of fractures due to osteoporosis), while others measure bone in the heel or hand. These tests are painless, noninvasive, and safe. Bone density tests can:

· Detect low bone density before a fracture occurs.
· Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis if you have already fractured.
· Determine your rate of bone loss and/or monitor the effects of treatment if the test is conducted at intervals of a year or more.
· Predict your chances of fracturing in the future.

Look after your bones. You can reach optimal peak bone mass and continue building new bone tissue as you get older. Here are several factors you should consider to prevent osteoporosis by changing your lifestyle and diet.

Here are some ways you can help keep your bones healthy:

Calcium. An inadequate supply of calcium over the lifetime is thought to play a significant role in contributing to the development of osteoporosis. Many published studies show that low calcium intakes appear to be associated with low bone mass, rapid bone loss, and high fracture rates. National nutrition surveys have shown that many people consume less than half the amount of calcium recommended to build and maintain healthy bones. Good sources of calcium include low fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream; dark green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, collard greens, bok choy and spinach; sardines and salmon with bones; tofu; almonds; and foods fortified with calcium, such as orange juice, cereals and breads. Depending upon how much calcium you get each day from food, you may need to take a calcium supplement.

Calcium needs change during one's lifetime. The body's demand for calcium is greater during childhood and adolescence, when the skeleton is growing rapidly, and during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Postmenopausal women and older men also need to consume more calcium. This may be caused by inadequate amounts of vitamin D, which is necessary for intestinal absorption of calcium. Also, as you age, your body becomes less efficient at absorbing calcium and other nutrients. Older adults also are more likely to have chronic medical problems and to use medications that may impair calcium absorption.

Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption and in bone health. It is synthesized in the skin through exposure to sunlight. While many people are able to obtain enough vitamin D naturally, studies show that vitamin D production decreases in the elderly, in people who are housebound, and during the winter. These individuals may require vitamin D supplementation to ensure a daily intake of between 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D. Massive doses are not recommended.

Exercise. Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. The best exercise for your bones is weight-bearing exercise, that forces you to work against gravity. These exercises include walking, hiking, jogging, stair-climbing, weight training, tennis, and dancing. Talk with your doctor about what kind and how much exercise is best for you.


Smoking. Smoking is bad for your bones as well as for your heart and lungs. Women who smoke have lower levels of estrogen compared to nonsmokers and frequently go through menopause earlier. Postmenopausal women who smoke may require higher doses of hormone replacement therapy and may have more side effects. Smokers also may absorb less calcium from their diets.

Alcohol. Regular consumption of 2 to 3 ounces a day of alcohol may be damaging to the skeleton, even in young women and men. Those who drink heavily are more prone to bone loss and fractures, both because of poor nutrition as well as increased risk of falling.

Medications that cause bone loss. The long-term use of glucocorticoids (medications prescribed for a wide range of diseases, including arthritis, asthma, Crohn's disease, lupus, and other diseases of the lungs, kidneys, and liver) can lead to a loss of bone density and fractures.

Other forms of drug therapy that can cause bone loss include long-term treatment with certain antiseizure drugs, such as phenytoin (Dilantin®) and barbiturates; gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) analogs used to treat endometriosis; excessive use of aluminum-containing antacids; certain cancer treatments; and excessive thyroid hormone. It is important to discuss the use of these drugs with your physician, and not to stop or alter your medication dose on your own.

Prevention Medications. Various medications are available for the prevention, as well as treatment, of osteoporosis.

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