About the condition
Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the bones causing them to become weak and therefore easier the fracture. The cause of this disease is due to the bone not being repaired and renewed in a process called “bone turnover”. As one gets older the process becomes unbalanced so there is more bone loss that there is bone renewal. This means that the bones become weaker and less dense. Women are at a greater risk because oestrogen is essential for bone growth and when women reach menopause the level of oestrogen falls.
Other causes include early menopause, hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), and absent periods. Men usually suffer from osteoporosis if they have low levels of testosterone due to certain medications, alcohol misuse, and hypogonadism (reduction in the function of the reproductive organs).
* There are no specific symptoms until one has a minor fall or sudden impact.
Healthy bones should be able to withstand a fall from standing height, but a person with osteoporosis might easily fracture the bone.
* Common injuries for people with osteoporosis are wrist, hip and spinal bone fractures.
* Simple things such as sneezing or coughing when the disease is serious can cause a fractured rib.
There are many ways to prevent this disease. Regular exercise is essential to building bone and muscle strength. The average adult should be doing about 2.5 hours of moderate exercise every week. If you at risk of developing osteoporosis then weight bearing and resistance exercises are very important.
Weight bearing exercise will help strengthen your muscles, ligaments and joints. Resistance will be especially helpful for the strength of tendons pulling on bones.
A healthy diet is another easy way to improve your risk of developing osteoporosis. Make sure that you are getting enough calcium in your diet because it is an important element in maintaining healthy bones. Vitamin D will help your body absorb calcium so it is also important that there you are getting enough in your diet.
Other lifestyle changes, such as reducing the consumption of alcohol and stopping smoking will reduce the risk of developing the disease.
The treatment of osteoporosis includes the treatment and prevention of fractures. Reducing the risk of falls throughout the home by keeping the house safe can prevent the further harm of fractures. Taking medication in order to strengthen the bones is another way to treat this condition. See prevention for more information.
Living with Osteoporosis
Reducing the risk of falls is the most important way of dealing with osteoporosis. Removing hazards such as folded carpet corners, wires and things that are just lying around and having regular eyesight and hearing tests will help with reducing this risk.
Did you know?
* Approximately 3 million people in the UK are thought to have osteoporosis, and there are over 250,000 fractures every year as a result.
* 2.3 million people in England have osteoporosis, 72000 in Northern Ireland, 250000 in Scotland and 150000 in Wales.
* In the UK, one in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will break a bone mainly because of poor bone health.
* There are about 300,000 fragility fractures every year in the UK.
* Joan Rivers and Ursula Andress have both been diagnosed with the disease and Meredith Viera and Gwyneth Paltrow have a high risk of developing the disease.
* The rate of hip fractures is two to three times higher in women than in men.
* Women can lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the 5 – 7 years following menopause.
* Men tend to develop osteoporosis 10 – 15 years later than women do, because they are generally bulkier and have more bone mass to lose.
* Among those who fracture their hip, 12 to 20% die within one year after the fracture and more than 50% of the survivors are unable to return to independent living.