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What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition where bones in the body becomes weak and prone to fracture. Some people with osteoporosis may experience severe pain. Osteoporosis commonly affects the spine, wrist and hip bones. This condition can also affect their daily life as it is not uncommon for them to have difficulties in performing day to day tasks such as walking and climbing stairs. When it affects the spine, affected individuals may present with curved back, sloping shoulders, protruding abdomen and loss of height.
In many cases, patients usually find they have osteoporosis after acquiring a fracture, most often due to fall accidents. This is why, it is also known as a silent disease.
Its incidence is seen more often in women than in men. In 2009, in the United States alone, it is said that 10 million individuals are suffering from osteoporosis. Although this condition is more often seen in people who are 70 years and older, it can affect anyone at any age.
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There are various factors that can result in the development of osteoporosis. Women are more prone to the disease because they have smaller skeletons and their bone loss usually starts earlier. Factors like hormonal changes also contribute to this condition. A diet containing less calcium and Vitamin D are often implicated in weaker bones.
Individuals who are thin and weigh less than 130 pounds are more at risk for osteoporosis. Age can also play a factor, as those who are over 65 years of age are more prone to the disease. Likewise, people who don’t get enough physical activity are also at risk. Intake of certain medicines for asthma and cancer can also have osteoporosis as a side-effect.
Some factors, like alcohol consumption and smoking, can be controlled, thus reducing ones's chances of of developing osteoporosis. It is said that excessive alcohol consumption is known to decrease the density of bone and making it prone to fractures. Smoking is also known to contain nicotine and other chemicals which can inhibit calcium absorption.
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Effects of Osteoporosis
A healthy bone usually contains calcium, protein and collagen. Diet low in calcium content, no exercise and other factors already mentioned, can lead to the loss of bone density. Bone density is what determines bone strength. As children mature, their bone density also increases and reaches a peak by age 25. When individuals grow older, their bone density also decreases, thus making older people prone to fractures. In women, hormonal influence often play a role in maintaining bone density. Upon menopause, many women are known to develop bone fractures due to osteoporosis. It is thus recommended that women should be more aware of what is osteoporosis all about in order to prevent its onset. Prevention include limitation or avoidance of cigarette and alcohol use, increase physical activity, and intake of calcium and Vitamin D rich diet.
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NIH.gov: What is Osteoporosis, http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/osteoporosis_ff.asp
NIH.gov: Osteoporosis in Men, http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/men.asp
womenshealth.gov: Osteoporosis, http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/osteoporosis.cfm