<p">As we age, it is a natural fact of life that our cells lose some of their ability to regenerate as quickly as before. Since bones are a living tissue like skin or muscle, their process of being broken down and replaced begins to slow the older we get. When the creation of new bone material can’t keep up with the removal of old tissue, the result is known as osteoporosis.

53 million people currently have osteoporosis or are at high risk for developing it in the United States. Learning the risk factors involved and how you can prevent or treat osteoporosis can serve to lessen that number.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Typically, osteoporosis does not present symptoms until the condition’s effects have developed. The signs and symptoms of osteoporosis can generally be observed as:

  • Back pain as a result of collapsed vertebra
  • A loss of height
  • Stooped posture
  • Brittle bones

In general, the loss of bone mass will happen very gradually over time. For people who have smaller frames or those who hadn’t accumulated much bone mass during their youth, osteoporosis can become a greater likelihood.

What are the Causes of Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis can affect both men and women of all races, however, Caucasian and Asian women are at the highest risk.

Hormone changes after menopause also increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.

This condition has a tendency to run in families, so genetics are often responsible for a prevalence of osteoporosis. However, despite individual differences, the single most common and universal factor increasing the chance of developing osteoporosis is growing older.

Additionally, those who lead very sedentary lifestyles and who neglect eating a proper diet rich in calcium and other essential nutrients for bone health are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

Diagnoses of Osteoporosis

Since traditional X-ray machines cannot measure the density of bone, more specialized techniques are required. The most common form is through something called DXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) which is capable of detecting small percentages of bone loss. Because osteoporosis can occur in different portions of the body, there is a range of similar tests used for each specific area.

Treatments for Osteoporosis

Depending on the severity of your osteoporosis, treatment options will be recommended to you accordingly.

Most treatments for osteoporosis are aimed at reducing your risk of breaking a bone either now or several years in the future. If you are not at an exceptionally high risk of osteoporosis-related fractures, then your treatments may focus on modifying the factors leading to your individual loss of bone mass. Additionally, you’ll be instructed on the proper ways to avoid falls or deal with these situations should they arise.

For those with a high risk of fractures, medications may be recommended to help replenish whatever bone mass possible. There is a likelihood that these medications will produce unpleasant side effects like nausea, abdominal pain, and heartburn if taken incorrectly, so be honest with your doctor about your past medical history and current medications. Common prescriptions include:

  • Alendronate (Fosamax)
  • Risedronate (Actonel, Atelvia)
  • Ibandronate (Boniva)
  • Zoledronic acid (Reclast)

If you are a woman, doctors may suggest hormone-related therapy to replace bone matter by increasing your estrogen levels. Keep in mind that estrogen therapy can increase the risk of blood clots, endometrial cancer, breast cancer, and heart disease in some cases.

Again, one of the best things to maintain regularly is a healthy, nutrient rich diet with the goal of increasing your bone density. Foods like salmon, dark leafy greens, potatoes, grapefruit, figs, and many more can help you build stronger bones in the most delicious way possible.

In general, getting enough vitamin D and calcium, exercising when possible, and seeking the appropriate medications through your doctor can keep your bones healthy and osteoporosis at bay.