Bone Focus: Osteoporosis 101 Q&A

Purpose of Our Bones:

Our bones support us and allow us to move. They protect our brain, heart, and other organs from injury. Our bones also store minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, which help keep our bones strong, and release them into the body when we need them for other uses. Our bones are alive. Every day, our body breaks down old bone and puts new bone in its place.

What is Osteoporosis?

There are many kinds of bone diseases. The most common one is osteoporosis (AH-stee-oh-por-OH-sis). The World Health Organization definition is “a disease characterized by low bone mass and microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to enhanced bone fragility and a consequent increase in fracture risk”. That means a disease of bone where the bone is weakened and deteriorates leading to broken bones. It is normal to lose some bone as we age. As we get older, our bones break down faster than our body can replace it. If we do not take steps to keep our bones healthy, we can lose too much bone and get osteoporosis. Most people don’t know they have osteoporosis until they break a bone. People with osteoporosis most often break bones in the wrist, spine, and hip.

How Do I Know if I Have Osteoporosis?

The best way to test for osteoporosis is with a bone density test which can evaluate the severity of osteoporosis. Bone density tests are quick, safe, and painless.

What Can be Done to Prevent Osteoporosis?

  • Eat a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
    • Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, and foods and drinks with added calcium.
    • Good sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, saltwater, fish, liver, and milk with vitamin D.
  • Participate in weight bearing exercises 2-3 times a week.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol.

Risk Factors of Osteoporosis?

Age: Risk factors increase as our age increases.

Sex: Post-menopausal females are at greater risk.

Tobacco and Alcohol: Both associated with reduced bone mass and increased fracture risk.

Exercise: Weight bearing exercises improve bone density.

Family History: There is a genetic component that will increase ones risk.

Hormones: A decrease in estrogen and testosterone are risk factors and an excess of thyroid hormones can also lead to bone loss.

Medications: Corticosteroids, mood medications, seizure meds, Reflux meds can also increase risk.

Medical conditions:

  • Alcoholism
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Asthma/ allergies
  • Cancer
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Lupus
  • Liver or Kidney Disease
  • Lung Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

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