What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes reduced bone density, resulting in weak and porous bones. When a person with osteoporosis bends or coughs, it may cause fractures. Osteoporosis-related fractures usually occur in the hip, wrist or spinal area.
Osteoporosis can affect both children and adults. However, it is more likely to occur in menopausal women. This is due to reduced levels of the hormone estrogen which has an important role in maintaining bone density. Medications, a healthy diet, and weight-lifting exercise can help prevent bone loss and strengthen weak bones.
In addition, the main factors that cause osteoporosis include aging, low weight, low sex hormones, menopause, smoking, and taking medications. Prevention and treatment include calcium and vitamin D, exercise, and certain medications.
Your doctor can usually diagnose osteoporosis based on your complete medical history, a physical examination, bone examination through X-rays, bone densitometry, and laboratory tests.
Causes of Osteoporosis
Human bones are constantly ‘renewed’ when old bones are damaged. At a young age, your body creates new bones faster than your old bones break down and your bone mass will increase. Beyond your 20s, it may be slower to process and most people reach the peak of their bone mass after entering the age of 30. This is because bone loss occurs faster with age.
The chances of getting osteoporosis depends on how much bone mass you developed when you were younger. Bone mass will decrease with age and vary by ethnic group. The higher your bone mass, the more bones you have, and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis when you become older.
In addition to age factors, there are also other causes of osteoporosis such as:
- Addicted to alcoholic beverages.
- Women, especially after menopause.
- Have relatives with a history of osteoporosis.
- Vitamin D and calcium deficiency
- Hormonal disorders and certain diseases, such as Crohn’s disease (inflammatory bowel) or malabsorption (inability to absorb food nutrients)
When to See a Doctor for Osteoporosis
Your bone density can be measured by machines with the use of low-level X-rays to determine the proportion of mineral content in your bones. It will be a painless test. You simply lie on a padded table when the scanner passes through your body. In some cases, only some parts of the bone are examined, such as the hips and spine.
If you are suspected of having a bone injury, your doctor may perform a physical examination and an X-ray or CT scan to check the severity of the injured bone. In addition, your doctor will also perform bone density measurement using dual energy X-Ray absorptiometry (DXA).
If your doctor diagnoses that you have osteoporosis, he or she will suggest different types of treatments based on your condition.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
Symptoms of osteoporosis usually do not appear at an early stage, but once your bones become porous, you may have the following signs and symptoms:
- Back pain caused by spinal fractures.
- Loss of bone mass over time.
- Hunchbacked posture.
- Fragile bones
If you do not have the symptoms mentioned above, but have a family history of osteoporosis, consult your doctor to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis early.
Treatment for Osteoporosis
Your doctor may recommend treatments based on your symptoms or the diagnosis results. If the risk of osteoporosis is not high, you may not need to take medications and focus more on modifying factors that risk causing bone loss and fractures. Here are some treatment options for osteoporosis recommended by your doctor:
For men and women who experience an increased risk of fractures, the most commonly prescribed medications are biphosphonate, including alendronate, risedronate, and ibandronate. These medications have side effects such as nausea and abdominal pain.
Monoclonal Antibody Medications
Compared to biphosphonates, denosumab can help increase bone density better and reduce the risk of fractures. Denosumab is given through injection once every six months. If you consume denosumab, you may have to take it continuously. There is a possible risk of spinal fractures after you stop taking the medications.
You should get a series of dental examinations before you start taking medications for osteoporosis and should maintain your oral health. Make sure the dentist knows that you are taking medications for osteoporosis.
The estrogen hormone therapy, especially after menopause, can help maintain your bone density. However, estrogen hormone therapy triggers the risk of blood clotting, endometrial cancer, breast cancer, and heart disease. Therefore, estrogen hormone therapy is usually used to maintain the bone health in young women or in women who need treatment due to the onset of menopausal symptoms.
Whereas in men, osteoporosis is associated with a gradual decrease in age-related testosterone levels over time. Testosterone hormone therapy can help increase the testosterone hormone to treat osteoporosis.
Bone Growth Stimulants
If your body cannot tolerate common treatments options used to cure osteoporosis, your doctor may advise you to try:
- Triparatide (Forteo). The drug stimulates the growth of new bones. You can consume it for two years.
- Abaloparatide (Tymlos). Medications taken for two years along with the consumption of other osteoporosis medicines
- Romosozumab (Evenity). The latest bone-forming drug to treat osteoporosis. The drug is administered by injection every month and is followed by the consumption of other osteoporosis medications.
Treatment Cost for Osteoporosis
Treatment cost for osteoporosis treatment varies greatly depending on the recommended treatment, the location of the hospital, and the specialist of your choice.
To find out the estimated treatment for osteoporosis at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Osteoporosis
There are numerous osteoporosis factors that you cannot control, such as being female, aging, and having a family history of osteoporosis. However, there are also several factors that can be controlled. Some of the best ways to prevent osteoporosis early include:
- Be sure to meet your daily intake of calcium and vitamin D
- Do heavy weight-lifting exercises.
- Quit smoking
- For women, consider the pros and cons of hormone therapy.
If you are at risk of osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about the best way to prevent it early.
Home Remedies for Osteoporosis
Some of the remedies for treating osteoporosis at home can help you reduce your risk of developing recurrent osteoporosis or fractures, such as:
- Try not to fall.
- Avoid smoking, as smoking increases the likelihood of fractures and bone loss.
- Do not drink excessive alcohol, as consuming more than two alcoholic beverages a day can reduce bone formation.