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Managing Osteoporosis

 

Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by a decrease in bone density, resulting in fragile bones.  Almost 20% women above the age of 50 have Osteoporosis. This substantially increases the risks of fracture in that age group. Even a slight fall often causes fractures of the hip, wrist, or even vertebra spine. Osteoporosis, although more common among women, is not limited to them. According to statistics, one out of eight Indian men are affected by Osteoporosis. Men over the age of 70 have a higher risk for Osteoporosis.

The World Health Organization deems Osteoporosis as the second major global health problem, the first being - Cardiovascular disease.

It is imperative of institutions across the world to raise awareness about this health hazard. 

Causes

Malnutrition, or inadequate diet, in formative years becomes the primary cause for onset of Osteoporosis as the age advances. This situation is more acute in developing countries like India. Even in average, middle class homes, women usually get neglected – when it comes to ensuring balanced diet for family members. Typical Indian diets are high carb. Insufficient intake of Calcium results in bones not growing well, and remaining fragile.

As people age, they tend to lose more bone mass than the body is able to create. The absorption of essential minerals required for bone formation - Calcium and Phosphate – tends to decrease with age. This affects bone production and the bone tissues become weaker.

A drop in estrogen hormone in women at the time of menopause and a drop in testosterone in men are often the trigger points for onset of Osteoporosis.

Some other factors worsening the condition are:

  • Reduction of physical activity
  • Chronic rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease or eating disorders
  • Medications like steroids or anti-seizure drugs
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Vitamin D deficiency
  • Absence of menstruation for prolonged duration
  • Alcoholism, tobacco use, family history of osteoporosis
  • History of hormone treatment
  • Low body weight
  • Low calcium intake

 

Osteoporosis Symptoms

Typical symptoms which get noticed at advanced stages are:

  • Bone pain or tenderness
  • Fractures with little or no trauma
  • Loss of height (up to six inches) over time
  • Low back pain
  • Humps
Diagnosing Osteoporosis

Bone Mineral Density (BMD) measurement or DEXA scan is the most common method for Doctors to confirm Osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment

Calcium is vital to building and maintaining healthy bones. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium. Adapting a healthy, well-balanced diet can help one get abundant nutrients. 

Osteoporosis treatment remains limited to treating the symptoms. Thus, the treatment is usually meant to reduce pain and slow down bone loss. Medicines can strengthen the bone. Lifestyle changes can help a great deal.

Making appropriate dietary corrections that ensure intake of Calcium and Vitamins – even as supplements - regular exercises, including Yoga and walking, together with any specific medicines prescribed by the Doctor, help alleviate the impact of Osteoporosis. Staying clear of drinking and smoking helps manage Osteoporosis better.

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