Most people who have osteoporosis do not even suspect the disease until they break the hip bone or wrist after a light hit. Osteoporosis is a disease, that causes a decrease in the mineral density of the bone tissue.
Throughout the entire life, the bone tissue is constantly regenerating: old tissue gradually breaks down, and gets replaced by a new one. Osteoporosis is a result of an imbalance between the processes of destruction and synthesis, which leads to a pronounced decrease in the mass of the bone tissue. Approximately 70% bone fractures and breaks in elderly people are associated with osteoporosis.
Low bone mass by itself does not have any symptoms or direct negative effect on the human health, until a bone fracture occurs. In most severe cases, when a person sneezes or coughs, a fracture may occur in one of the ribs. According to statistics, people over 65 years get about 60,000 fractures a year.
Early stages of osteoporosis run symptomless. First signs appear later, when the bones start to weaken. The patient may experience backache caused by a fracture in one of the vertebrae. Slouch and early gray hair may also indicate osteoporosis.
Some people are more predisposed to develop osteoporosis:
- Women of a fragile constitution, childless or having one child only;
- Women with early or artificial menopause: in both cases, the level of female hormone estrogen in blood decreases, which is one of the primary factors to develop osteoporosis;
- Patients who take such medications as glucocorticoids (or corticosteroids), thyroid hormone drugs, or some diuretics;
- Smokers lose the bone mass much faster than non-smokers. According to a research, by the age of 80, the bone density in smokers is 10% lower than in non-smokers. This rate doubles the risk of vertebral fracture.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol leads to interrupted calcium absorption, and negatively affects bone metabolism. Such alcohol abuse-related problems as poor nutrition, weight loss, reduced physical activity, liver diseases also aggravate osteoporosis.
- Weight loss and underweight may also contribute to the osteoporosis development.