As the population in the United States ages, millions of people are suffering from osteoporosis. In fact, experts estimate that nearly 50 percent of the United States elderly population suffer from osteoporosis. The medical condition impacts such many the population, it’s clear that this is becoming a public health issue.
Not only is osteoporosis increasing healthcare costs in the country, it also increases the risk of death in the elderly. Nearly 20 percent of women with osteoporosis who suffer from hip fractures are estimated to die within a year of the first fracture, due to complication from the injury.
That’s why it’s important to know everything about osteoporosis, how to prevent it, and what to do in the event this medical condition affects you. Searching “Osteoporosis Port Charlotte FL” can be a great staring point in your educational journey.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a medical condition defined by a significant decrease in bone density. Decreased bone density leads to fragile bones which in turn increases the risk for bone fractures.
Normal healthy bones are comprised of protein, calcium, and collagen, all of which contribute to the bone’s strength and density. The amount of bone in the skeletal structure determines bone density and its strength. Essentially the higher the bone density the stronger the bones.
However, with osteoporosis, the bones are porous, weak, and open to compression. When this happens, bones are susceptible to breakage and fractures, causing pain and often taking longer than normal to heal.
Bone fractures can take one of two forms. The first is typical bone fractures such as hip fractures or forearm fractures, the most likely occurrence of fractures. Second, fractures can take the form of compression. Compression usually takes place in the vertebrae of the spine, where the bones collapse. This causes loss of height and a tremendous amount of back pain.
Who is at risk for osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis can manifest in both men and women, usually with the same symptoms. However, osteoporosis is most likely to occur in adults 35 years and older.
Bone density usually peaks around age 25 and remains steady for a period of 10 years until it begins to decrease. Women are more susceptible to osteoporosis as they have a lower bone density.
Additionally, estrogen plays an important role in bone density. Women who have experienced menopause, lose bone density at a faster rate than women who haven’t. For men, low testosterone levels are usually the culprit for osteoporosis.
Genetics is also a factor for those at risk of developing osteoporosis. Experts believe that a family history of osteoporosis increases the risk factor by double of developing the condition.
Other factors include:
- Unhealthy lifestyle – Smoking cigarettes and excessive alcohol consumption, and poor diet in conjunction with lack of exercise can all lead to osteoporosis.
- Nutrient Deficiency – A lack of calcium and vitamin D deteriorates bone density. Additionally, a poor calcium and vitamin D intake can lead to malabsorption of other crucial nutrients and minerals the body needs.
Symptoms of osteoporosis
The most notable symptom of osteoporosis is pain. Usually, this pain does not develop until there has been a bone fracture. Osteoporosis can be present in the bones for decades and remain undetected.
Unfortunately, this means that most people aren’t aware of their fragile bones until it’s too late. Some bone fractures can go unnoticed for long periods of time.
What are treatment options?
There is no cure for osteoporosis, in fact, it is difficult to rebuild bone that has been weakened by osteoporosis, therefore prevention is essential. Doctors recommend early detection, through use of an X-ray machine to determine the body’s bone density.
However, prevention is the only factor that will help with osteoporosis. Prevention methods include:
- Lifestyle Adjustments – Quitting cigarette smoking, lowering alcohol intake, and exercising regularly can all help prevent osteoporosis.
- Balanced Diet – Experts agree that a balanced diet filled with calcium and vitamin D can dramatically decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis
- Medication – Some medication can help treat osteoporosis. Medications such as Alendronate and Risedronate help stop bone loss and increase strength. Meanwhile medications such as Teriparatide can help increase bone formation.
How to diagnose?
Routine X-rays can help reveal the presence of osteoporosis, however, they are not very accurate. Medical experts including, the American Medical Association and the National Osteoporosis Foundation suggest patients seek a Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry Scan or DXA. The DXA is accurate in measuring bone density in the spine, forearms, and hips, the most crucial locations for bone fractures.
Considering that of the 44 million people in the United States with low bone density, 10 million of them have osteoporosis, this preventable medical condition needs to be taken seriously.
Schedule an appointment today with your doctor and learn more about osteoporosis and the ways to prevent it.