Osteoporosis is a disease in which the density and quality of bone are reduced. As bones become more porous and fragile, the risk of fracture is greatly increased. The loss of bone occurs silently and progressively. They become less dense, lose strength and break more easily. Most people don’t realize they have osteoporosis until a fracture happens, as there are usually no signs or symptoms. That is why osteoporosis is often called the ‘silent disease’. Osteoporosis particularly affects women in their middle and later years, although some men are also affected.
One can prevent osteoporosis through changes in life style such as diet and exercise and medical treatment.
Adults aged 19 to 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking, every week. They should also do muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week by working all the major muscle groups, including the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms. Weight-bearing exercises force your body to resist gravity and stimulate cells in the body that make new bone. High-impact weight-bearing exercises, such as running, skipping, dancing, aerobics, and even jumping up and down on the spot, are all useful ways to strengthen your muscles, ligaments and joints.
With exercise, adequate amount of calcium intake, proper vitamin D levels are also important for healthy bones. If there is not enough calcium in the blood, the body will take calcium from the bones. Dairy foods have the highest levels of calcium, but there are many other sources of calcium, including sardines, spinach and almonds. Vitamin D is important because it helps your body absorb the calcium in your diet. We obtain most of our vitamin D from the sun, fatty fish, liver, eggs and fortified foods such as low-fat milks and margarine.
Along with diet and exercise, prevention includes not smoking and limiting alcohol and caffeine consumptions.
As well as diet and lifestyle changes, the doctor may recommend medication. Bisphosphonates encourage bone density by slowing the breakdown process. Selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) in females simulate the action of oestrogen hormone and reduce the bone loss. Strontium ranelate increases the build-up process. Parathyroid hormone (PTH) regulates the amounts of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium in the bones and blood and it stimulates new bone formation and can increase bone density and strength. This medication is a daily injection used for people with severe osteoporosis. Menopause causes a marked drop in oestrogen levels, and increases the risk of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures so Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) boosts oestrogen levels and prevents osteoporosis after menopause.