What Causes Osteoporosis
As we age, we face potential health issues, with osteoporosis being one of them. Osteoporosis is rarely seen in the young and is considered a disease that can sneak up on us with time and without warning. Here we will talk about what causes osteoporosis.
You may need to be concerned about osteoporosis if you fractured a bone recently, especially if you are over 50 and it was a simple accident that normally would not have caused a bone to break. When you have osteoporosis your bones are not healthy and they can fracture easily.
What is Osteoporosis?
As we age, so do our bones and other parts of our bodies. We cannot stop that. Our bones are constantly rejuvenating themselves throughout our lives. They regularly break down and are replaced by new bone.
When we are young, we build bone mass faster than we lose it. That is why we grow. The human body stops this imbalance when we are in our 20s and stabilizes around 30. Osteoporosis happens when the bones cannot regenerate as fast as the loss. You end up with brittle bones and low bone density. This puts you at risk for weak bones that can fracture easily.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
The amount of bone mass that you acquired early in life can determine your predisposition for osteoporosis. Bone mass is “banked” for future use.
Two minerals that are essential for keeping bones healthy and strong are calcium and phosphate. Calcium is especially important for young children who are growing. Calcium is equally crucial as we age and lose bone density. Calcium deficiency can bring on osteoporosis, as well as other health problems.
Another main cause of osteoporosis is fluctuating hormones that we experience later in life, especially women. Women are at higher risk of suffering from osteoporosis when they reach menopause. This is a time when estrogen levels are low and bones cannot renew as quickly as they once did.
Other causes of osteoporosis include the use (or overuse) of certain medications like corticosteroids, having thyroid issues, eating disorders, genetics and leading a sedentary life.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
Symptoms of osteoporosis are subtle and you may not even know that you are suffering from the condition until you fracture a bone. There is usually no pain associated with early osteoporosis.
Some early signs of osteoporosis may include:
- Receding gums
- Brittle nails
- Weakened strength or grip
Later you may get back or neck pain due to the progression of osteoporosis. You may also lose a few inches in height and experience weakness due to bone loss.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
- Gender. Women are more at risk of experiencing osteoporosis than men.
- Age. Osteoporosis is very rarely seen in young adults. You are more at risk as you get older.
- Menopause. Women who are going through menopause are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Culture.You are a higher risk for osteoporosis if you are of Caucasian or Asian descent.
- Family. Osteoporosis tends to run in families. You may be at risk if you have a close family member who has frequent hip fractures.
- Poor nutrition. Unhealthy eating habits and lack of certain vitamins and minerals, like vitamin D and calcium, can put at risk for osteoporosis.
- Smoking. Smoking is bad for you for many reasons and putting yourself at risk for osteoporosis is one of them.
- Small body frame. You may be at a higher risk of having osteoporosis as you age if you have a small body with a small bone structure.
- Inactivity. Leading a sedentary life without regular exercise is a risk factor.
Some of these risk factors are out of your control, like your gender and age. Others can be controlled by changing some lifestyle habits, like smoking and inactivity.
When to See Your Doctor
You may be worried that you may have osteoporosis if you fractured a bone, especially a wrist or a hip. Speak with your doctor and they may prescribe a bone density test to confirm if you have osteoporosis or not.
Luckily, osteoporosis can be managed with dietary supplements and a healthy lifestyle to help lessen the progression of bone density loss.