What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a problem of loss and a decrease in bone mass density on an ongoing basis. The inside of a healthy bone normally appears to have a lot of small spaces just like a beehive and the bone loss will make these spaces wider.
This condition gradually makes the bone lose its strength. So, it becomes more fragile, even vulnerable to fracture due to minor trauma. Outer bone growth also tends to be weaker and thinner than it should. Fractures due to loss usually occur more often in the pelvis, wrist, and spine. Unfortunately, some bones such as broken hip bones cannot heal.
Many people think that osteoporosis occurs naturally and cannot be avoided because it is part of aging. The problem of bone loss is often not detected and unknown until the bone is finally broken.
Even so, medical experts believe that this disease can actually be prevented. Even people who already suffer from it can prevent or slow down its progression to reduce the risk of re-fracturing.
How common is osteoporosis?
Bone loss due to osteoporosis is common. This condition can happen to anyone, both men and women of all races. However, white men and Asian women are known to have a higher risk. This risk will increase for older women who no longer experience menstruation (menopause).
People who have this condition are at higher risk for fractures even when doing routine activities, for example like standing, walking, or lifting weights. Now you don’t need to worry because you can reduce your risk of this disease by reducing the risk factors that you have. Consult your doctor to find out more information.
The body actually has its own way to maintain and guard bone density. The bone tissue will continue to be renewed with the aim of producing a new bone composition that is still sturdy to replace the old bone.
Therefore, the bones will always function optimally to carry out their duties. Generally, everyone’s bone density reaches its peak when around the age of 20. When starting to enter the age of about 35 years, the composition and strength of bones begin to weaken.
This then continues with age which makes the bone composition begin to thin slowly. At this age, bones no longer form composition and tissue to produce new structures. If the condition is ongoing, the bones will become increasingly porous which eventually results in osteoporosis.
In the early stages, this disease usually does not show any specific symptoms. In some cases, people whose bones have become porous do not even know their exact condition, until they have actually broken a bone.
The main symptom of osteoporosis that can be felt is broken bones due to small incidents such as falls, slipping, and so forth. However, over time some osteoporosis symptoms can appear which include:
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain
- Stooped posture
- Decreased height gradually
- It is easy to experience a broken bone
If the condition is not treated immediately, bone loss can worsen over time. When the structure and composition of the bone have thinned and weakened, the risk of a fracture then increases.
The symptoms that have been classified as severe can result in broken bones due to trivial things until heavy whether it is because of sneezing or a strong cough, or because of a fall.
Not only that, some people often experience symptoms like broken ribs, wrists, or pelvis. But above all, the majority of cases of fractures due to this loss occur in the spine that can cause disability. There may be other signs and symptoms not mentioned above. If you have a concern about a specific symptom, consult your doctor immediately.
When should I see a doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have started entering the initial phase of menopause, regularly take corticosteroid medications for several months, or your parents have a hip fracture.
If you have other symptoms or other questions, consult your doctor. Each person’s health condition is different. Always consult a doctor to get the best treatment related to your health condition.
Normal bone formation requires calcium and phosphate minerals. If the body lacks calcium from food, bone production and bone tissue can be disrupted. Especially when still young, the body tends to be faster and easier in making new bones.
Unfortunately, as we get older, bone mass can disappear faster and it is not accompanied by the formation of new bone mass. Indirectly, your chances of developing osteoporosis actually depend on how much bone mass formed when you were young.
The more bone mass formed, the more stored bone mass stock is stored. As a result, your chances of developing this disease with age get smaller. One of the main causes of osteoporosis is aging. The natural aging process decreases estrogen levels in women at menopause and decreases the hormone testosterone in men.
There are many risk factors for osteoporosis. Some of them can be changed early, but some others tend to be difficult or even cannot be changed. Some risk factors for osteoporosis that you cannot change are:
- Gender. Women more often suffer from osteoporosis than men.
- Age. The older you are, the greater your risk of this disease. This increased risk usually lasts from the age of about 30 years, especially after a woman experiences menopause.
- Hormones in the body. In women, low levels of the hormone estrogen can make it difficult for bones to form new tissues and structures. On the other hand, in men, low testosterone levels are one risk factor for bone loss.
- Body size. Women and men with small and thin body shapes are at higher risk for bone loss. Conversely, men and women with larger body shapes tend to have lower risks.
- Family history. Osteoporosis is usually hereditary in families. That means, if someone in your family has this disease or bone loss, you are at greater risk for the condition.
- Having experienced a fracture. Someone who has previously experienced a fracture at a mild level, more at risk for bone loss later in life, especially if the fracture occurs after the age of 50 years.
While the risk factors for osteoporosis that you can change are:
- Anorexia nervosa. Having an eating disorder as well as limiting food intake can weaken bone strength which ultimately causes this condition.
- Calcium and vitamin D intake. Low calcium and vitamin D diets make your bones porous more easily.
- Medication use. Some drugs increase the risk of this disease such as corticosteroid drugs, antidepressants, chemotherapy agents, and so on.
- Lazy activity. Lack of exercise and often relaxing until you forget the time or lying down for long periods can cause bones to become porous due to weakness and loss of strength.
- Smoking. Besides not being good for heart and lung health, smoking can also reduce bone density. This is because the chemicals in cigarettes will slowly damage various body cells, including cells in the bone. When bone cells are damaged, bone density will automatically weaken which makes it porous and easily brittle.
- Alcohol consumption. Too much alcohol can lead to bone loss and eventually damage.
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor.
If you are found to have bone loss, your doctor usually will determine the best treatment plan based on your health condition. Usually, you will be advised to change your lifestyle to reduce the risk of fractures.
Lifestyle changes that can help treat osteoporosis are:
1. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is an important component of prevention and therapy programs for osteoporosis. Sports not only improve your bone health, but also improve strength, coordination, and muscle balance, as well as improve your health. Although exercise is good for people with this disease, it is not advisable to exercise suddenly or excessively that can torment your bones.
2. Meet the Intake of Calcium and Vitamin D
It is best to meet the needs of calcium (minimum 1200 mg/day) and vitamin D (minimum 800 IU / day). Choose food sources that contain various vitamins, minerals, and various other important nutrients for the body such as low-fat dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, tofu, tempeh, and various processed soybeans.
If necessary, you can take calcium supplements to increase calcium intake and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. You can consult further with your doctor to determine the need to use calcium supplements.
In addition, stopping smoking, reducing and even stopping alcohol consumption, and regular therapy can help slow or stop bone loss to prevent fractures while reducing the risk of falling.
The doctor can also prescribe medications to help maintain bone density and composition. The most commonly used medication for osteoporosis is bisphosphonates. This medicine can be given by mouth orally or by injection.
The aim is to prevent and slow the loss of bone mass, as well as stimulate increased bone mass and new bone formation. A variety of bisphosphonate drugs include:
- Alendronic Acid (Fosamax)
- Ibandronic Acid (Boniva)
- Zoledronic Acid (Reclast)
These drugs are also recommended as an additional treatment in hormone therapy.
4. Hormone Therapy
If your bone loss is caused by low levels of certain hormones, your doctor will usually recommend hormone therapy. This therapy can help increase low hormone levels in men and women. In men, osteoporosis can be associated with a decrease in testosterone levels with age. Testosterone replacement therapy can help increase testosterone levels.
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Always consult a doctor before taking medication to help restore osteoporosis. Recognize side effects and adjust the benefits of these drugs with your body’s health condition.
If you have questions, consult your doctor for the best solution for your problem.