What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. It causes you to lose bone mass. Osteoporosis occurs most often in older adults. Women are more likely to have it than men. This is due to several factors. Women have less bone mass than men to begin with. Women also tend to live longer and absorb less calcium. In women, the rate of bone loss speeds up after menopause, when estrogen levels fall. Since the ovaries make estrogen, faster bone loss may occur if both ovaries are removed by surgery.
Symptoms of osteoporosis
You may not know you have osteoporosis until your symptoms are severe. Signs include frequent broken bones or fractures, low back pain, or a hunched back. You may get shorter over time due to osteoporosis. The condition can cause your vertebrae (the bones in your spine) to collapse. These problems tend to occur after a lot of bone calcium has already been lost.
What causes osteoporosis?
There are two ways osteoporosis can occur. You can lose too much bone or your body cannot produce enough bone. Some people have both issues. When you’re young, your bones are dense and strong. Osteoporosis makes your bones brittle and breakable.
It is natural to lose some bone mass as you age. For most adults, this begins in their mid 20s. Other factors can increase your risk of osteoporosis. Some of these risk factors are out of your control. For others, you can take steps to reduce your risk. Talk to your family doctor about your risk factors.
Uncontrollable risk factors:
Sex: Osteoporosis is more common in women than men.
Age: The older you are, the greater your chance of having osteoporosis.
Race: Caucasians and Asians are more likely to have osteoporosis.
Genetics: Your risk of osteoporosis is higher if it runs in your family.
Menopause: This period in a woman’s life causes physical and hormonal effects. For example, it lowers your estrogen. These changes can increase your risk of osteoporosis. Your risk is even higher if you have early menopause (before age 45).
Body frame: People who have small, thin frames are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
Health: Certain conditions, such as cancer or stroke, can lead to to osteoporosis.