What is osteoporosis ?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps.

Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Viewed under a microscope, healthy bone looks like a honeycomb. When osteoporosis occurs, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb are much larger than in healthy bone. Osteoporotic bones have lost density or mass and contain abnormal tissue structure. As bones become less dense, they weaken and are more likely to break. If you’re 50 or older and have broken a bone, ask your doctor or healthcare provider about a bone density test.

What are symptoms of osteoporosis?

There are actually no obvious symptoms in the beginning stages of bone loss. But once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you may have signs and symptoms that include:

  • A stooped posture
  • A bone that breaks much more easily than expected
  • Loss of height over time
  • Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra

How to prevent osteoporosis? 

Genetics play an important role in determining whether an individual has an increased risk of osteoporosis. Yet, lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity additionally influence the bone development in the adolescence stage and the rate of bone loss later in life.

After your mid-20s, bone thinning is a natural process and cannot be completely stopped. The thicker your bones, the less likely they are to become thin enough to break. Young women in particular need to be aware of their osteoporosis risk and take steps to slow its progress and prevent fractures.

Adults Should Strive To:

  • Ensure a nutritious diet and adequate calcium intake 
  • Avoid under-nutrition, particularly the effects of severe weight-loss diets and eating disorders
  • Maintain an adequate supply of vitamin D
  • Participate in regular weight-bearing activity
  • Avoid smoking and second-hand smoking
  • Avoid heavy drinking

Children and adolescents should strive to:

  • Ensure a nutritious diet with adequate calcium intake 
  • Avoid protein malnutrition and under-nutrition
  • Maintain an adequate supply of vitamin D
  • Participate in regular physical activity
  • Avoid the effects of second-hand smoking

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