What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become thin, brittle, and weak. These changes can increase the risk of fractures. Fractures can lead to disability. Fractures caused by osteoporosis have been linked to an increased risk of death.
Is osteoporosis more common in women or in men?
Osteoporosis occurs five times more often in women than in men.
What are some risk factors for osteoporosis?
The following factors cause or contribute to osteoporosis and fractures:
- Certain medications
- Diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus
- Low calcium intake
- Vitamin D insufficiency
- Excess vitamin A
- High caffeine intake
- High salt intake
- Aluminum (in antacids)
- Alcohol (three or more drinks per day)
- Inadequate physical activity or being immobile
- Smoking (active or passive)
- Falling Being thin
What is the link between osteoporosis and menopause?
Estrogen, a female hormone, protects against bone loss. After menopause, the ovaries produce very little estrogen. This decrease in estrogen triggers a period of rapid bone loss in women that starts 1 year before the final menstrual period and lasts for about 3 years. The natural effects of aging on bones may contribute to this bone loss as well.
What are some symptoms of osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis may not cause any symptoms for decades. However, some signs and symptoms do occur as the disease progresses. As the spinal bones (vertebrae) weaken, they can fracture. Fracture in the front part of the spinal bones can result in loss of height or a slight curving of the spine. This type of spinal fracture often causes no pain. Sometimes, fractures of the spine can cause pain that travels from the back to the sides of the body.
What is a bone mineral density test?
In a bone mineral density (BMD) test, bone density is measured at the heel, spine, hip, hand, or wrist. Several types of BMD tests are available. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) of the hip and spine is considered to be the most accurate BMD test available.