Overview

Osteoporosis is a disease that makes the bones weak and fragile. The weakening of bones puts patients at risk of fracture from a fall or even from mild stress. Osteoporosis is caused by lack of bone mass and strength in the bones. Bones are made up of tissues that are being continuously replaced with new ones. The disease develops when the production of new bone is slower than the loss of old one

Osteoporosis is often diagnosed when there is a sudden fracture of weak bones that mostly happens in the hip, wrist or spine. Older women who have reached their menopause are more prone to it.

Symptoms

Early stages of osteoporosis do not usually have symptoms. When your bones have already been weakened by the disease. Osteoporosis may have the following signs:

  • Back pain that occurs from a vertebral fracture or collapse
  • Height reduction in the long run
  • Stooped posture
  • Brittle bone or bone that can be easily broken
When to see a doctor

Patients who reached early menopause or those who have taken corticosteroids for many months should visit a doctor. Having a parent who had hip fracture increases the chance of developing  osteoporosis as well.

Causes

Bones are naturally renewing all the time. Older bones break down and new bones are produced. In younger age, new bones are created faster than the old bones break down. The process of new bone production increases bone mass. The possibility of having osteoporosis varies partially on the level of bone mass that patients have gained when they were young.

Risk factors

There are numerous contributing factors that can lead to the development of osteoporosis, such as age, race, lifestyle choices, medical conditions and treatments.

Unavoidable risks

Some of the risk factors are not in your hands, such as:

  • Sex – women are more prone to have osteoporosis than men.  Lower estrogen level in postmenopausal women is the risk to develop osteoporosis.
  • Age – the older you are, the higher risk you have of developing the disease.
  • Race – patient of Caucasian or Asian descendant have the highest risk of developing the disease.
  • Family history – if your parent or sibling has a record of having osteoporosis, especially if one of your parents has hip fracture, you are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Body frame size – Patients with smaller body frames are likely to have osteoporosis because they may have limited amount of bone mass to use when they get old.
  • Medical conditions
    • Overactive thyroid, parathyroid or adrenal glands
    • Underwent weight loss surgery, or organ transplant
    • Received hormone treatment for prostate or breast cancer or have a record of irregular menstruations
    • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) or celiac disease
    • Multiple myeloma or other blood diseases
  • Medications: Certain medications have side effects that include bone damage. Steroids and medications for seizures are some of the contributing factors that lead to osteoporosis.
Risk factors that can be controlled:
  • Eating habits: Insufficient consumption of calcium and vitamin D can cause osteoporosis.
  • Lifestyle: People who have inactive lifestyle are more prone to develop the disease.
  • Tobacco and alcohol: Smoking raises the chance of fractures and consuming two or more drinks in a day could develop osteoporosis.