The term osteoporosis refers to the thinning of bones. It is a very common disease, three million people are estimated to have it and over 230,000 fractures occur every year as a result of it. It is said to affect one in two women and one in five men who are over the age of 50, but how much do you actually know about this disease?
When we are young our bodies are continually developing, and the same can be said about our bones. They will continue to grow and get denser as well as stronger until they reach maximum strength, which generally happens when we reach between the ages of 25 to 30 – this is known as peak bone mass. Once we have reached peak bone mass, however, our bones stop getting denser and as we grow older they too will grow older.
In many cases, we tend to think of our bones as being solid and static objects, this, however, isn’t the case. In fact, our bones are an active and dynamic organ, which means they go through a constant process of cell growth and repair as well as change just like all of our other organs.
Our bones are made from strands that are formed by the protein collagen and they are hardened by calcium salts as well as other minerals. Within these strands are blood vessels and everything is protected by a dense outer shell. Inside our bones, there are millions of living cells – these cells are what break down and replace old bone. So how does osteoporosis change this?
Osteoporosis is when you start to lose bone mass, which causes your bones to thin. It means you are prone to breakages and fractures, especially within your wrists and hips as well as ribs. In some cases, fractures have occurred from simply sneezing.
There are a number of reasons as to why you may end up suffering the effects of osteoporosis such as the following:
- Low testosterone levels in men
- Suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, as it can develop into osteoporosis
- Women who have the disease run in their family
- Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption
- Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
- Low amount of calcium in diet
- Having an inactive lifestyle
- Use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids and anticonvulsants
- Women who have gone through menopause
Although both men and women can and do develop the disease, women are more prone to it. The main reason for this is due to menopause. It is a risk once you are post menopausal, but not all hope is lost as there is preventive treatment that you can undertake.
Once you have lost bone mass it can’t be regained, but what you can do is prevent further damage from occurring by strengthening the remaining structure and preventing any further thinning. The treatment that you do receive, however, depends on the cause of your osteoporosis. For example, in men with low testosterone you can undergo testosterone treatment to increase the hormone.
In other cases of osteoporosis, you may benefit from calcium and vitamin D supplements. Calcium is highly important in maintaining the strength of your bones so you may want to seek supplements with the advice of your doctor.
If you are suffering osteoporosis due to menopause, then natural HRT therapy will be able to help. Supplements such as black cohosh and wild yam will help to maintain your bone density. You should, however, discuss all treatments with your doctor in order to get the best help.
With the right help you will be able to control the effects of osteoporosis even though you won’t be able to cure them. By maintaining and controlling the effects, you will be giving yourself the best chance of a normal life, so make use of the help that is available now.