Osteoporosis is a women’s health issue that affects many women. It is caused by a decline in estrogen which, as a result, lessens the density of their bones, making them susceptible to fractures. There are about 1.5 million fractures a year due to osteoporosis. There are 2 types of osteoporosis: postmenopausal osteoporosis and senile osteoporosis. The first affects women after menopause and the second affects them around the age of 75. Osteoporosis is the Greek word for “porous bones”.
There are no symptoms with osteoporosis. Its main consequence, however, are fragility fractures. These are fractures that occur in normally healthy people whose bones would not normally fracture as a result of whatever caused the fracture (i.e.
a fall). The most common places for fractures to occur are the hip, wrist, rib and vertebral column. Fractures in the vertebral column can be quite painful and debilitating. It can cause loss of height, stooped posture, reduction in mobility and chronic pain.
Generally, it is the loss of estrogen that causes osteoporosis. Estrogen helps to keep the bones dense. However, professionals now say that there are other factors that may contribute or cause the diseases. They include: certain drugs, individual metabolism, vitamin D deficiency, parathyroid hormone, diabetes, blood factors and family history. Understanding the different cause can help you to be pre-emptive in your fight against osteoporosis.
The most common treatment for osteoporosis over the years has estrogen and hormone replacement therapy. Both are similar. The latter having progestin added (with some women just the estrogen is ineffective in providing strengthening properties for their bones). This type of treatment, having been used extensively for such a long time, is now being called into question by many professionals. The reason for this treatment being questioned is the inherent risks involved with it. Risks can include blood clots, gallstones, uterine cancer and even, possibly, breast cancer. Hormone replacement therapy can also cause hot flashes.
Drugs such as selective estrogen receptor modulators, bisphosphonates, statins and even calcium and vitamin D have shown to help treat osteoporosis with any of the nasty risks that come along with hormone and estrogen replacement therapy. Women can also be proactive in dealing with osteoporosis. That is to say, pursue lifestyle changes that will lessen the likelihood of getting osteoporosis. This could include exercising, cutting down on salt, caffeine, smoking and alcohol.
Osteoporosis can result in a reduced quality of life, especially in those that suffer a vertebral fracture. It can lead to severe hunchback and cause pressure on your organs. For instance, your lungs, which would make it difficult to breathe. It is, however, rarely lethal. There is generally a 13.5% chance of dying within 6 months of having your hip broken. However, hip fractures can lead to pulmonary embolism, deep venous thrombosis and pneumonia (these will affect you over a longer period of time). It is important to be proactive when dealing with osteoporosis, especially if there is a history in your family of it.