Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the bones, making them weaker and thinner. It can happen to anyone, but it's more common in older adults, especially women.

The inside of a healthy bone has small spaces, but osteoporosis makes these spaces larger, which causes the bone to become less strong and less dense.

This condition puts people at a high risk of bone fractures, especially when doing everyday things like walking or standing up. The bones that are most commonly affected are the ribs, hips, wrists, and spine.

What are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?

The early stages of osteoporosis typically do not produce any symptoms or warning signs. Often, individuals with osteoporosis are unaware of their condition until they experience a fracture.

If symptoms do arise, some of the earlier ones may include :

  • receding gums
  • weakened grip strength
  • weak and brittle nails.

If you have a family history of osteoporosis but have not experienced any symptoms, it may be helpful to speak with your doctor to assess your risk.

Severe osteoporosis, on the other hand, can cause more noticeable symptoms such as fractures resulting from falls or even from something as simple as a strong sneeze or cough.

Additional symptoms of severe osteoporosis may include back or neck pain, as well as a loss of height. This type of pain may be caused by a compression fracture, which occurs when a vertebra in the neck or back breaks due to the weakened state of the bone.

What are the Risk Factors of Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is more common in older adults, as the biggest risk factor is age. Throughout your life, your body breaks down old bone and grows new bone.

Menopause is another primary risk factor, which occurs in women around the ages of 45 to 55 years, due to the change in hormone levels associated with it.

Other Risk Factors for Osteoporosis include:

  • being female,
  • Caucasian or Asian,
  • having a family history of osteoporosis,
  • poor nutrition,
  • physical inactivity,
  • smoking, and low body weight.

To check for osteoporosis, your doctor will review your medical history and do a physical exam. They may also run tests of your blood and urine to check for conditions that may cause bone loss. If your doctor thinks you may have osteoporosis or that you’re at risk of developing it, they’ll likely suggest a bone density test.

This test is called bone densitometry or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). It uses X-rays to measure the density of the bones in your wrists, hips, or spine, which are the three areas most at risk of osteoporosis. This painless test can take from 10 to 30 minutes.

Osteoporosis treatment

If you have osteoporosis, your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan that may include medication and lifestyle changes. To slow down bone loss and promote the growth of new bone, you may need to increase your calcium and vitamin D intake and do appropriate exercises.

The most common drugs used to treat osteoporosis are called bisphosphonates, which prevent the loss of bone mass. Other medications, such as testosterone and hormone therapy for women, may also be used to prevent bone loss or stimulate bone growth.

To keep your bones healthy, you need to include certain nutrients in your daily diet,

  • such as calcium,
  • vitamin D,
  • protein,
  • magnesium,
  • vitamin K, and zinc.

Weight-bearing exercises, such as climbing stairs and resistance training, can also help strengthen your bones.

Some risk factors for osteoporosis,

  • such as age,
  • gender,
  • and family history, are beyond your control.
  • However, you can prevent osteoporosis by getting enough calcium and vitamin D, doing weight-bearing exercises, and quitting smoking. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to prevent osteoporosis if you’re at risk.