Osteoporosis Information - Symptoms And Treatment
Osteoporosis is a progressive disease in which the bones gradually become weaker and weaker, causing changes in posture and making the individual extremely susceptible to bone fractures. The term osteoporosis, derived from Latin, literally means "porous bones." Because of the physiological, nutritional, and hormonal differences between males and females, osteoporosis affects many more women than men. However, men also suffer from bone loss, often as a side effect of certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, thyroid hormone, corticosteroids, and anticonvulsants, or as a result of other illnesses. Fully half of all women between the ages of forty-five and seventy-five show signs of some degree of osteopenia (low bone mass) or osteoporosis.
Bone is constantly restoring itself. Cells called osteoblasts are responsible for making bone, and other cells, called osteoclasts, are needed to remove old bone as its minerals are absorbed for use elsewhere in the body. If the osteoclasts break down the bone more quickly than it is replaced, then bone tends to become less dense and is therefore likely to break more easily.Bone is at its strongest when a person is around age thirty, and thereafter begins to decline. In women, this decline begins to accelerate at menopause. If you have not accumulated sufficient bone mass during those formative times in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, or if you lose it too quickly in later years, you are at increased risk of osteoporosis
There is no single cause of osteoporosis but the major causes of osteoporosis are low calcium intake and lower estrogen levels at menopause. Our bodies constantly build new bone and remove older bone. In childhood, more bone is built than removed, and so the bones grow in size. After age 30 or 40, however, the cells that build new bone do not keep up with those that remove bone. The total amount of bone then decreases, and osteoporosis may develop as a result.
The average rate of bone loss in men, and in women who have not yet reached menopause, is small. But after menopause, bone loss in women accelerates to an average of one to two percent a year. This is because after menopause, the level of the female hormone estrogen in a woman's body sharply decreases. Estrogen protects the skeleton by helping the body's bone-forming cells to keep working. After menopause, when the level decreases, some of this protection is lost.
Dietary and lifestyle habits are important as well. Insufficient calcium intake is one factor, but equally important are other dietary practices that affect calcium metabolism. Caffeine, alcohol, and many other drugs appear to have a detrimental effect on calcium absorption. Bone density also depends on exercise. When the body gets regular weightbearing exercise (such as walking), it responds by depositing more mineral in the bones, especially the bones of the legs, hips, and spine. Conversely, a lack of regular exercise accelerates the loss of bone mass. Other factors that make one more likely to develop osteoporosis include smoking, late puberty, early menopause (natural or artificially induced), a family history of the disease, hyperthyroidism, chronic liver or kidney disease, and the long-term use of corticosteroids, antiseizure medications, or anticoagulants.
Osteoporosis is often called "the silent disease" because in the early stages you usually do not have symptoms.
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