Osteoporosis (Bone Melting)? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Bones renew themselves over time, but as age increases, this renewal decreases. If the decrease in regeneration occurs faster than normal, osteoporosis disease has occurred. Malnutrition and sedentary lifestyle that begin in childhood play a role in the development of various bone disorders in later ages. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that affects bone density and puts your health at risk. Osteoporosis is called a “silent” disease because its symptoms usually occur as a result of a fall and are barely noticeable. Problems such as aching bones and hunchbacks are other symptoms of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can be prevented or its treatment can be supported by changes in lifestyle.
What is Osteoporosis?
One of the structures that make up the human body is bones, and osteoporosis is a disorder that reduces the mineral density and mass of bones. Bone tissue begins to develop at a young age, and if it does not develop sufficiently, it causes bone loss to increase as age increases (especially over the age of 65). Calcium, which forms the structure of bones, is lost by the body over time, making the bones sensitive. Bones that lose calcium become weak and easily breakable, and their structure deteriorates. Wrist, hip and spine fractures are common in osteoporosis.
In women, 90% of bone mass is formed before the age of 18. In women aged 50-75, if bone mass does not develop sufficiently at an early age as a result of estrogen deficiency due to natural menopause, it causes osteoporosis.
It develops due to aging in people over the age of 70. The causes are mostly decreased vitamin D synthesis and calcium deficiency.
It is a rare and unknown type of osteoporosis that occurs in children between the ages of 8-14, unlike adults.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis progresses insidiously and goes unnoticed unless a fracture occurs due to the disease. Untreated osteoporosis increases pain in the bones and makes the person dependent on the people around them due to fractures. Body fractures, hunching, shortening in height, waist and back pain are other symptoms of osteoporosis. Untreated osteoporosis causes over time the inability to meet daily needs and dependence on the environment.
How Is Osteoporosis Diagnosed?
It is a disorder that is generally noticed by individuals who do not have regular examinations, with body fractures or back, muscle and joint pain after a fall. After a doctor’s examination, blood and urine tests, radiography, and bone density measurement are used for diagnosis. The method to be used for diagnosis is decided by the doctor. Bone density measurements should be renewed and compared every 1.5-2 years. The type of treatment and medications may vary depending on the level of osteoporosis.
Causes and Risk Factors of Osteoporosis
Women have less bone tissue than men, and especially in women during menopause, the estrogen hormone also decreases, making women more prone to osteoporosis. Although there is a greater risk in women, decreased testosterone in men also makes the person prone to osteoporosis. As age increases, bones lose density; Generally, osteoporosis is more common in individuals aged 50 and over. Bone mass increases thanks to physical activity. Factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, low calcium diet, vitamin D and genetics are also effective in osteoporosis. Other risk factors for osteoporosis can be listed as follows:
- Excessive caffeine consumption.
- Low body weight in older age.
- Falling frequently.
- Having been receiving steroid (cortisone) treatment for more than 3 months.
- Endocrine system diseases.
Who is Affected by Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis affects all genders, all age groups and backgrounds, but some groups are at higher risk. Especially individuals who are malnourished, have a sedentary lifestyle, and get older are more prone to osteoporosis. If the person is over 65 years old, he is considered risky even if he does not show any symptoms. Apart from factors such as a family history of osteoporosis and inadequate calcium nutrition, there are also physical characteristics such as white skin, short stature, light eye color, etc., that are responsible for osteoporosis. It is also known that Asian women are at greater risk than African women. It is known that individuals with diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, and excessive alcohol use are more affected by osteoporosis worldwide.
How Is Osteoporosis Treated?
It is easier to prevent osteoporosis than to treat it. To prevent osteoporosis, it is necessary to make changes in lifestyle at an early age. If osteoporosis has developed, lifestyle changes must be made for treatment. Taking precautions to reduce falls, doing exercises under the supervision of a doctor and physiotherapist, nutritional changes, and regular use of medications prescribed by the doctor are effective in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. The medications to be used are given in accordance with the tests performed by the doctor. Calcium and vitamin D supplements should be used when necessary. Activities such as dancing, tennis, light walks, yoga, and gardening help slow down bone loss and increase muscle strength.
Osteoporosis and Nutrition
One of the lifestyle changes that can be made in osteoporosis is nutrition. Ensure adequate calcium intake at all ages. The risk of osteoporosis decreases with regular calcium intake for adults under 35 years of age. Highly fatty foods should not be preferred for calcium intake. Reducing salt, caffeine and phosphate intake and increasing potassium and magnesium intake are changes that can be made to protect against osteoporosis. Consuming more than three cups of coffee a day is not recommended as it will increase calcium excretion due to caffeine intake. Milk and dairy products, nuts, and green leafy vegetables are rich in calcium. Vitamin D is found in fatty fish, especially eggs, chicken, and red meat, and is used by exposure to sunlight at the right time. Calcium and vitamin D needs may vary depending on age:
- The calcium requirement for adults aged 19-50, pregnant and breastfeeding women and men aged 51-70 is 1000 mg per day.
- The calcium requirement for adult women aged 51-70 and for all adults over the age of 71 is higher, at 1200 mg.
- Vitamin D supplements are started in infancy under doctor’s supervision. Babies between 0-12 months need 400 IU of vitamin D.
- In children aged 1-9 years, the need for vitamin D increases to 600 IU. It continues as 800 IU from the age of 9 to the age of 70.
- If the person is pregnant or breastfeeding, the vitamin D requirement is 600 IU.
How to Minimize the Risk of Falling?
One of the biggest risks caused by osteoporosis is the danger of falling. With the changes to be made, this risk should be minimized and health should be protected. Performing exercises that will increase muscle strength, balance and coordination forms the basis of protection. Individuals with balance disorders or a high risk of falling are recommended to move with equipment such as canes and walkers. Factors that may cause falls should be removed by making arrangements inside the home. Especially in bathrooms with slippery floors, attaching handles to the walls and moving with support reduces the risk of falling as a result of slipping. Slippery carpets and rugs should be removed from the floor and the risk of falling should be minimized.
Adopting a healthy diet and an active lifestyle, not only in adulthood but also starting from childhood, can reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later ages. Regardless of the reason, it is necessary to prevent fractures due to falls, which cause the disease to worsen in osteoporosis. If there is a family history of osteoporosis or if you are entering a risky age, regular medical check-ups should be done and a healthier life should be lived with early diagnosis. If you think you are at risk of osteoporosis or experiencing this disease, you should go to your doctor as soon as possible and follow the recommendations.