What is osteoporosis? What causes this disease?
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps.
Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease because one can’t feel bones weakening. Breaking a bone is often the first sign of osteoporosis or a patient may notice that he or she is getting shorter or their upper back is curving forward.
Your bones are in a constant state of renewal as new bone is made and old bone is broken down. When you're young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone and your bone mass increases. After the early 20s this process slows, and most people reach their peak bone mass by age 30. As people age, bone mass is lost faster than it's created.
How likely you are to develop osteoporosis depends partly on how much bone mass you attained in your youth. Peak bone mass is somewhat inherited and varies also by ethnic group. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have stored and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age.
Senile osteoporosis is osteoporosis that’s caused by aging when other possible secondary causes are excluded.
A lifelong lack of calcium plays a role in the development of osteoporosis. Low calcium intake contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss, and an increased risk of fractures. Eating disorders also play a role as severely restricting food intake and being underweight weakens the bone.
Certain steroid medications, either off-the-counter or prescribed, can lead to an increase in the chance of weakening bones, so make certain of the medication’s side effects before taking these.
What are the signs/symptoms of osteoporosis and what are the impacts of this disease?
People with osteoporosis are at a high risk of fractures, or bone breaks, while doing routine activities such as standing or walking. The most commonly affected bones are the ribs, hips, and the bones in the wrists and spine.
The early stages of osteoporosis don’t cause any symptoms or warning signs. In most cases, people with osteoporosis don’t know they have the condition until they have a fracture.
If symptoms do appear, some of the earlier ones may include:
weakened grip strength
weak and brittle nails
Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
Loss of height over time