Osteoporosis is a disease that impairs the bones, causes them to become brittle, resulting in long-term pain and a higher risk of breaks and fractures. The condition most commonly affects the spine, hips, and wrists.
Osteoporosis does not have a cure, but its symptoms can be managed and improved through a combination of medications, exercise, and a healthy diet. An appropriate treatment plan along with necessary lifestyle modifications can prevent osteoporosis from worsening and causing long-term damage.
Osteoporosis is very common, affecting over 40 million Americans. Despite its prevalence, there are still many misconceptions about the condition, so here are eight quick facts to familiarize yourself with osteoporosis further.
1. Osteoporosis most commonly affects people over 50
While people of a certain age and over are more likely to develop osteoporosis, osteoporosis can still be prevented. Regular exercise and having an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D promote bone strength and prevent loss of bone density, which can ultimately keep osteoporosis at bay.
2. Osteoporosis can be life-threatening
The health complications and risks linked to osteoporosis include more than just broken or fractured bones. Osteoporosis can result in permanent damage. For instance, people with hip fractures may need a replacement surgery, which is a risky operation that can lead to heart events and pneumonia.
3. Osteoporosis affects both men and women
Although postmenopausal women and women of Caucasian and Asian backgrounds are at an increased risk of getting osteoporosis, both sexes and people of all ethnic backgrounds can potentially develop osteoporosis if they are at risk due to a family history of osteoporosis and their lifestyle habits.
4. Spontaneous fractures happen
In most cases, people with osteoporosis fracture or break bones following a fall or a type of physical trauma. However, spontaneous fractures are not uncommon since osteoporosis weakens the bones and renders them brittle – just a little bit too much pressure due to a typical daily activity can result in a fracture.
5. Bone density loss is not easily detectable
Until you experience a fracture or a broken bone, it is nearly impossible to feel your bones weaken as a sign of osteoporosis externally. There are often virtually no signs of osteoporosis until a broken bone or fracture. However, once you consult a doctor, they can reach a diagnosis by administering a bone density test.
6. Your diet plays a significant role in managing osteoporosis
Your diet must be high in Vitamin D and Calcium. Adults need 1000-1200 mg of calcium and 600 IU of Vitamin D per day. So, it is important to take in the rays moderately and load up on low-fat dairy products, cruciferous vegetables, orange juice with Vitamin D and no added sugar, and salmon. You can also get supplements, but it is always better to get your vitamins and nutrients directly from food.
7. Most common osteoporosis drugs are bisphosphonates
Drugs such as risedronate, zoledronic acid, and ibandronate impede loss of bone density. On the flip side, these medications have adverse side effects such as nausea, heartburn, and stomach cramps. Denosumab is also an alternative, which is taken via injections twice per year and also helps prevent the chances of breaks and fractures.
8. Hormone replacement therapy can be used to prevent bone density loss
Hormone replacement therapy is normally used for menopause and involves providing the patient with either only estrogen or estrogen in combination with progestin. However, HRT is also used to treat osteoporosis patients to prevent fractures and bone density loss.
Since estrogen can increase the risk of some conditions such as heart disease and breast cancer, hormone replacement therapy is traditionally reserved for menopausal women with osteoporosis.
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