Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become weak and are more likely to fracture. It is called a silent disease because bone loss often occurs without your knowing it. Until the age of 30, your body forms new bone to replace the bone that is naturally broken down by the body. Your highest bone mass is reached between the ages 20 and 25, and it declines after that. After menopause, however, women begin to lose bone at an even faster rate. Osteoporosis develops when your body cannot replace bone as fast as it is broken down.
In the U.S. 44 million Americans are at risk for osteoporosis. Ten million already have the disease. Women make up 80%of cases. Certain factors make it more likely, that you will develop osteoporosis.
The risk factors are: family history, postmenopausal, thin frame, Caucasian, diet low in calcium and Vit.D, little exercise, alcohol consumption, and prolonged steroid therapy.
Other factors that can lead to osteoporosis include: Hormonal conditions such as hyperthyroidism, hyperadrenalism, and hyperparathyroidism, and anorexia nervosa.
If you have gone through menopause, have had a fracture, or are considering treatment for osteoporosis, a bone density test (DXA scan) can help determine your risk of fracture. If you are over 65, and do not have any of these risk factors for osteoporosis, you should still have a bone density test.
Too much bone loss can lead to fractures, which can cause serious health risks, including disability and premature death.
Prevention of osteoporosis is crucial in today’s world. You can take these steps to prevent bone loss: Get enough calcium and Vitamin D, either through diet or supplements (at least 1,200mg of calcium; and 800IU of Vitamin D daily). Do weight bearing exercises and stay physically fit. Avoid smoking. Do not drink too much alcohol. Even with a healthy lifestyle, however you may still need additional therapy to protect against bone loss, and fractures. Your endocrinologist may need to prescribe medications such as bisphosphonates. They are a class of drugs that prevent the loss of bone mass, thus used to treat osteoporosis. They are the most commonly prescribed drugs used to treat osteoporosis. Evidence shows that they reduce the risk of osteoporotic fracture in those who have had previous fractures. Bone undergoes constant turnover, and is kept in balance by osteoblasts creating bone, and osteoclasts destroying bone. Bisphosphonates inhibit the digestion of bone by encouraging osteoclasts to undergo cell death, thereby slowing bone loss.
Dr. Nicholas Kaloudis is a highly regarded, board certified endocrinologist. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and owner of EndoHealthMD, in Manhasset, NY. His center provides comprehensive specialty care using current evidence-based practices, and the latest advances in medical aesthetics. He holds an appointment as Associate Clinical Professor at North Shore University in Manhasset. He has received numerous awards, and he has published articles in the field of Endocrinology.
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