OSTEOPOROSIS is a disease characterized by bone fragility due to loss of minerals and proteins. It occurs in a gradual manner from 30 or 35 years old, when the body has accumulated the largest possible volume bone mass. In this disease bones become thinner and less dense, making them less resistant and more fragile.
It is a disease that affects most people as they get older, so that 50% of people 75 years old have it. It mainly affects women, especially after menopause. Osteoporosis is the leading cause of broken bones, especially those of hips, spine or wrist, which produce a large number of hospitalizations and disability.
It is estimated that half of women suffer some broken bones in post menopause. The percentage of older men is much lower as it only affects one of every eight, appearing with greater virulence when they stop producing testosterone.
In addition to broken bones, this disease leads to other consequences such as loss of height or the appearance of the hump on the back of the elderly.
Symptoms of osteoporosis
The main symptoms of osteoporosis are: Weakness of the bones, usual fractures for no apparent reason, the appearance of a hump, back pain, weakness, broken teeth, etc.
Causes and risk factors of osteoporosis
The main causes of osteoporosis are
- Aging: As people get older, they lose more bone mass so that the bones become weaker. This is due to poor absorption of calcium or the fact that the very body absorb calcium from the bones. The body is constantly immersed in a process of loss and gain of bone tissue. It creates new tissue and old tissue is absorbed. Osteoclasts are cells that break down bone and osteoblasts produce it. When this balance is altered osteoporosis occurs. This process does not occur in children and youth when both processes are in equilibrium, but it begins to appear in adulthood and it is precipitated in old age.
- Menopause: Osteoporosis is one of the consequences of menopause , especially when the loss of ovulation occurs in old age. The lack of estrogen during menopause, and especially during the first 5 years of post menopause calcium absorption gradually decreases which will produce a weaker skeleton. It is estimated that in the first 5 years of post-menopausal process, women can lose up to 20% of bone mass.
- Sex and race: Women are more likely to suffer this disease than men both for its lower bone mass as the greatest loss of it. Among women, those with smaller stature and greater thinness are the most likely. Caucasian and Asian races are more likely than African, Mediterranean or American. Women with blond hair, redheads or those with freckles are more likely. Also women who have been pregnant are more likely, given that pregnancy produces a rise in estrogen that increases the absorption of calcium.
- Food: diet deficient in protein or calcium can be one of the triggers of osteoporosis due to lack of calcium absorption. Moreover excess of proteins produces a softening body because calcium is absorbed from the bones and expelled through the urine. Young women with anorexia are likely to suffer from osteoporosis because they have very little bodyfat and very low estrogen levels. The presence of fat in the body promotes the formation of estrogen.
- Toxic substances: Certain toxic products , such as tobacco, alcohol, or certain medications (especially antacids with aluminum, diuretics and corticosteroids) may cause this disease. Alcohol interferes with calcium absorption. Tobacco, besides acting as alcohol, also interferes with the absorption of vitamin D.
- Lack of exercise: Lack of exercise leads to decreased bone tissue. It has been clearly seen that astronauts who are subjected to periods of weightlessness with no physical exertion have significant bone loss. Also those who have suffered prolonged detention have noticed the same symptoms. Moreover it should be noted that many elite athletes who have very low weights also have very low estrogen levels may also have osteoporosis.
Prevention of osteoporosis
We can mention the following advice to prevent the onset of this disease or to improve its condition:
- To take care of the diet,
- Supplement your mineral and vitamin deficiencies (Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D,...)
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco,
- Mmake regular exercise
- Monitor the effects of menopause in women and andropause or male menopause in men.
(More information on " Osteoporosis prevention" in the listing above)
Diagnostics and treatment of osteoporosis
At the onset of symptoms that may indicate the presence of osteoporosis, we recommend a visit to the specialist who will be able to diagnose the possible existence of this disease.
Osteoporosis treatment must be done quickly to prevent loss of bone mass as much as possible.
The standard treatment of osteoporosis is based on the use of a number of drugs that can strengthen bones and prevent breakage (Bisphosphonates). Some medications are used to stimulate bone growth (Teriparatide). Other drugs are intended to prevent the reabsorption of calcium (Calcitonin).
Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM) are used in the prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
Hormone therapy is used widely to prevent bone loss in women after reaching menopause. However, given the possible consequences of this therapy (greater likelihood of breast cancer, uterine cancer or myocardial infarction), is increasingly being used less.
All these medical treatments are generally combined with exercise therapy aimed at improving the health of bones and muscles.
The natural treatment for osteoporosis implies using some natural remedies to prevent or treat it