Osteoporosis, or “fragile bone” disease, is most common in postmenopausal females. It is a condition in which the bones become weakened, increasing the risk of fractures of all bones in the body- especially the hip, wrist and spine.
What are the symptoms? How is it diagnosed?
Osteoporosis is often called the “silent” disease, because it can occur without symptoms. Without proper screening, a person may not know it is present until a bone is broken. The most effective method of diagnosis uses bone mineral density measurements and specific bone markers.
What are the risk factors for developing osteoporosis?
- Being female
- Advanced age
- Being postmenopausal
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Inactive lifestyle
- Diet low in calcium
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Eating disorders
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Medical conditions (chronic rheumatoid arthritis chronic kidney disease & hyperparathyroidism)
What tests can be done for osteoporosis?
- Bone density measurements
- Vitamin D levels
- Calcium & Parathyroid Hormone (PTH)
- Osteocalcin (marker for bone formation)
Can osteoporosis be prevented?
The most important factor in preventing the disease is achieving optimal peak bone mass, much of which is genetically determined, and occurs in younger years.
Other factors that can increase bone mass include:
Optimal intake of vitamin D and calcium, exercise, avoiding excessive cigarette smoking and alcohol intake.
What can you do to help prevent or delay the onset of Osteoporosis?
Living a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and exercise, while avoiding smoking and excessive amounts of alcohol, will go a long way to help reduce the risks of developing Osteoporosis.
Like most late onset diseases, preventive medicine through routine checkups is always advised.