Osteoporosis is a disease identified by formative degeneration of bone tissue, which produces fragile bones and low bone mass. Bones become weak and break easily, particularly the wrist, spine, and hip. Sometimes called "the silent disease," bone loss from osteoporosis frequently occurs without symptoms. Often people are unaware of having osteoporosis until an incident occurs due to a fracture of weak bones.
A National public health hazard, osteoporosis threatens an estimated 44 million Americans, 68 percent of whom are women. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Muskuloskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), "one out of every two women and one in four men age 50 and older will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime."
Commonly characterized as an 'older persons disease,' osteoporosis can actually occur at any age. Bone continues to form and strengthen until around age 30, when optimum bone mass is achieved. At that point, the rate of bone disintegration gradually starts to surpass bone formation. Osteoporosis takes place when bone deterioration exceeds bone replacement.
Your chance of developing osteoporosis relies on certain risk factors, some you have control over, and others you don't. NIAMS breaks down the risk factors.
Risk factors you CAN'T control: Gender. Women have less bone tissue and lose bone faster than men due to changes from menopause. Age. Your bones become thinner and weaker as you age.Body size. Small, thin-boned women are at greater risk. Ethnicity. Caucasian and Asian women are at highest risk. Family history.Risk factors you CAN control: Hormone levels. Abnormal absence of menstrual periods and low estrogen levels in women, and low testosterone levels in men can bring on osteoporosis. Calcium and vitamin D intake. A lifetime diet low in calcium and vitamin D will put you at a higher risk. Medication use. Long-term use of certain drugs can lead to loss of bone density and fractures. Lifestyle. An inactive lifestyle weakens bones. Cigarette smoking. Smoking is bad for bones as well as the heart and lungs. Alcohol intake. Excessive consumption increases the risk of bone loss and fractures.A physician can diagnose osteoporosis by conducting a bone mineral density (BMD) test in the wrist, hip, or spine -- the most common sites of fractures from osteoporosis. BMD tests determine low bone density, calculate your chances of having future breakages, detect if you have already had a fracture, and ascertain your rate of bone loss.Treatment of osteoporosis concentrates on diet, physical activity, fall prevention, and medication. The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to live a healthy lifestyle and practice behaviors that promote positive bone health. As we mature, it is imperative to be aware of the risks related with osteoporosis. Visit your doctor if you think you might be at risk and to determine tests are necessary.