Osteoporosis Symptoms & Treatments
Osteoporosis is a common condition that causes severe, progressive bone loss and weakness. About half of women and a quarter of men over 50 years old will develop the disease and suffer a broken bone because of it. Awareness of the symptoms, your likelihood of developing the disease and the available treatments are crucial. Talk to your doctor about it and ask for further information on prevention and treatments.
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The best osteoporosis prevention is exercise along with a proper diet that gives your body the calcium and vitamin D it needs. Your bones break down and constantly rebuild throughout your life. The early years are most important as the rate of breaking down and rebuilding is quite fast. This is when you want to eat right so that your body can build good, solid bone mass. Things slow down later in life, especially when it comes to the renewal process, even though your bones will still continue to break down. If you built up good, solid bone mass when you were younger, it is much less likely for you to develop osteoporosis as you age.
That doesn't mean you should just throw your hands up and do nothing to prevent the disease if you are over 25 or 30 or even older. It is never too late to take action. You can take a multivitamin or calcium and vitamin D supplements and consume foods high in calcium and vitamin D. Your body has to have vitamin D to absorb the calcium.
Food is the best source of calcium and vitamin D. Milk, yogurt and cheese are excellent sources, but you don't have to consume all that dairy if you don't want to. Broccoli, kale, and spinach are excellent sources of calcium and vitamin K, which is also good for healthy bones. Fatty fish like salmon or tuna are good sources of vitamin D. Soy milk; vitamin-fortified cereals, bread, and many snacks are good sources of calcium and vitamin D, too. Your body absorbs calcium in doses of no more than 500 to 600 mg. At a time. Ingesting small amounts throughout your day will give you the best absorption rate.
If you take a vitamin supplement, read the label to find out how much calcium and vitamin D it provides. Many multi-vitamins only contain 500 mg., which is about half the recommended daily dose. Women under 50 years of age and men under 70 need 1,000 mg. of calcium daily. Women over 50 and men over 70 need 1,200 mg. of calcium per day. Males and females under 50 years of age need 400 to 800 IU (International Units) of vitamin D per day and people over 50 years old need 800 to 1,000 IU per day.
Cut back or eliminate foods that are high in phosphorus, like fast foods and soft drinks. Phosphorus can negatively affect your bones. Reduce your intake of sodium, too. It can have an adverse impact on calcium in the bloodstream. You should consume less than 2,300 mg. of sodium per day.
Stay active. Exercise helps keep your bones, ligaments and connective tissues strong and healthy. Low-impact exercise like walking, climbing stairs, tai chi and swimming are ideal. Resistance exercising with free weights is also excellent for bone strengthening.
Once you have the disease, it will never go away completely. There are excellent treatments, though, that slow the progression of the disease and can even help your body to rebuild your bones.
The best treatment for you will depend on how advanced the condition is, whether you are a man or woman, how old you are and what you prefer. Another deciding factor will be your medical history. For example, if you have been treated for cancer or exposed to radiation, your doctor will not recommend estrogen or teriparatide.
You can decide if you want to take medication in pill form, liquid form, from an injection, intravenously (IV) or through a nasal spray. You will also have to decide if you prefer to take your medication daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or a few times over the course of a year. Much of it is really up to you. Your doctor will give you recommendations and let you decide which treatment you prefer.
If you are in any of the high-risk groups, ask your doctor about getting a bone density test. This test is a painless, low-level X-ray. They will usually look closely at a few specific areas, like your spine, hip, and wrist, where early bone loss is most likely to show up. If bone loss has occurred, your doctor will talk to you about treatment options.
The highest-risk group is little, Caucasian and Asian women who have undergone early menopause and have a close relative who has developed osteoporosis. The risk for osteoporosis goes up as you get older. People with low levels of sex hormones are more prone to loss of bone mass. For women that hormone is estrogen and for men it is testosterone.
People who have been treated for breast or prostate cancer are at an increased risk of getting osteoporosis. Those who have thyroid problems are more likely to get this disease, especially those who have an overactive thyroid or have taken medication for an underactive thyroid. People with overactive adrenal and parathyroid glands are also at greater risk.
A poor diet increases your chances of developing osteoporosis. Insufficient calcium is a big factor. If you didn't drink enough milk and eat calcium-rich foods when you were young and don't take calcium supplements, you are more likely to lose bone density quickly as you grow older. Eating disorders, in general, are a contributing factor. Excessive and fast weight loss and being underweight increase the risk of osteoporosis. Getting gastrointestinal surgery to lose weight, like gastric banding or some other procedure to reduce stomach size or the removal some of the intestines can also increase your risk.
Treatments for a whole assortment of diseases can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Taking medication for cancer treatment, gastric reflux, seizures or transplant rejection make you more vulnerable to the disease. Certain medical conditions increase your risk. For example, people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney or liver disease, celiac disease, multiple myeloma or inflammatory bowel disease are more likely to suffer bone loss and develop osteoporosis.
Unfortunately, there are no early symptoms that alert you to the onset of the disease. As it progresses, sufferers might experience frequent back pain due to a collapsed or fractured vertebra. They may notice they are "shrinking" or getting shorter because of bone loss. A seemingly slight impact may cause broken bones. The bump of a hip, stumble, minor fall or even a sneeze could be enough to break a bone. People with osteoporosis develop a tell-tale stooped posture as the disease progresses.