We’ve always been warned by TV, magazine or online advertisements about the consequences of osteoporosis. We are presented with pictures of bones getting cracked and hips fractured. We’re terrified that this may happen to us. What really happens when we have osteoporosis?

Continually Changing Bones

We think our bones are tough and hard as ever, solid and inert. But truth is, they can be sometimes fragile. Bones undergo a continuous process of change. Old bones are broken down and new bones are constructed in a process called remodeling or “bone turn over.” The cause of osteoporosis is a disruption of normal bone remodeling. The building of young bone is at its peak during your 20s and early 30s. Young bone is built more than it is broken down. This process gradually slows as you grow older. The bone that you create during these peak ages will serve as your bone “bank” in later years. The more bone you’ve made in your 20’s or 30’s determines your likelihood of developing osteoporosis. The development of osteoporosis can also depend on the size and density of your bones. The density of your bone is related to how much calcium, phosphorus and other minerals your bones contain.


What is osteoporosis?

Technically, osteoporosis is a condition when bones become so brittle and weak that it snaps at the slightest stress such as a mild fall or even coughing. The main culprit is a deficiency in minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. Estrogen and testosterone also plays a role in the integrity of your bones.


The most common areas of fractures as a result of osteoporosis are the spine, hip or wrist. This disease is more associated with women but men are affected too. In the early onset of the disease you won’t feel any symptom.  But, as the disease progresses, back pain can be severe, especially if there is resultant fracture or a collapsed vertebrae. Other signs include fractures of the wrist, hips or vertebrae or a stooped posture and consequently a loss of height.


Risk Factors

Risk factors that play a role in osteoporosis include low calcium intake, tobacco use, eating disorders, sedentary lifestyle and excessive alcohol intake. Additionally, medications such as corticosteroid, aromatase inhibitors, anti-depressants, methotrexate, anti-seizure medications, proton pump inhibitors and aluminum antacids increase your osteoporosis risk.


As you get older, you are at higher risk of osteoporosis which you can’t change. Other osteoporosis risk factors include being female, Caucasian or if you’re of Asian descent. Does a family member suffer from the disease? A family history of osteoporosis puts you at risk too. Individuals who are very thin or smaller framed have lesser bone mass to depend on as they get older so they have a higher risk of osteoporosis. Excessive thyroid hormones can result in bone loss like what happens in hyperthyroidism – when your thyroid gland produces excessive thyroid hormone, or when you take in thyroid hormone supplements. Removal of all or part of your stomach can affect your calcium absorption. Other conditions like celiac disease, hyperparathyroidism, Crohn’s and the rare Cushing’s disease can cause osteoporosis.


Lifestyle Factors

If you’re diagnosed as having early osteoporosis or you’re at high risk, it’s isn’t too late to do something about it. If you’re getting on in years it doesn’t mean osteoporosis is imminent. You can do much to maintain your bone health throughout your life. Lifestyle, which prevents a variety of diseases and conditions have the most impact on preventing osteoporosis. Undertaking some lifestyle changes can protect your bones and keep them healthy throughout your lives. Diet and exercise are the two most significant ways of to prevent osteoporosis.