Osteoporosis is a very common disease that mostly affects women after menopause. It consists of the progressive loss of bone mass, both of its mineral content (decalcification) and of bone tissue, which leads to a greater facility for fractures to occur.
Why does osteoporosis occur?
Bone loss is a natural process that occurs with age. When this loss is greater than that which would correspond to the age of the patient, we speak of osteoporosis. Several factors have been discovered that favor its development and that facilitate fractures:
– Old age.
– The female sex.
– The presence of family members with fractures.
– Low weight.
– Alcohol consumption.
– A little physical activity temporarily (hospitalizations or prolonged bedridden) or maintained over time (sedentary lifestyle).
– Low calcium intake.
– Estrogen deficiency, for example after early menopause.
– Numerous diseases, many of endocrinological origin or diseases of the blood.
– Taking various medications, among which is the chronic use of corticosteroids and some antiepileptic drugs.
Other factors are associated with an increased risk of fractures by facilitating falls such as:
– Bad vision.
– The presence of cognitive impairment or dementia.
– Unsteadiness when walking.
– The risk of fracture of a certain person can be known according to an equation that includes different risk factors.
What symptoms does the disease produce?
Osteoporosis occurs with a higher frequency of bone fractures, either spontaneous (without blows, falls or trauma) or after falls. The most affected bones are the vertebrae and the hip, although there is a predisposition to breaking any bone in the body In general, the most affected bones are the vertebrae and the hip, although there is a predisposition for any bone in the body to break. The disease does not produce any symptoms except that derived from fractures. Spinal crushing is characterized by severe back pain that increases with movement. However, on many occasions they are asymptomatic and are discovered by chance when taking an X-ray. Crushing, if multiple, can lead to a decrease in height, to develop a forward curvature of the back (kyphosis), to decrease lung capacity and to produce chronic back pain. Hip fracture is a frequent complication in patients with osteoporosis. It is associated with a high risk of complications and deterioration of the physical situation of the person who suffers it.
Who should be screened for osteoporosis?
The American preventive studies group recommends performing a bone densitometry to assess the presence of osteoporosis in:
– All women over 65 years of age. Nine out of 100 women of this age without risk factors for the development of osteoporosis, will have a fracture as a result of this disease during the next 10 years.
– Postmenopausal women younger than 65 years but with a risk of osteoporosis similar to that of women older than 65 years. Some guidelines recommend conducting the study in women under 65 years of age who have already had menopause and who have at least 1 risk factor for its development.
– People who have already had a fracture as a result of osteoporosis.
– People with diseases or treatments that cause osteoporosis, even if their estimated risk of osteoporosis is not high.
How is the presence of osteoporosis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of osteoporosis is made by performing a bone densitometry. The amount of bone mass is usually measured in the vertebrae of the lumbar area, in the head of the femur or in the total hip:
T-score. Compare the test result with that of a population of healthy young people of the same sex and race. When the amount of bone in any of the previous locations is comparatively much lower (a value greater than 2.5 standard deviations or T-score <-2.5), we can speak of osteoporosis. Minor bone mass losses (T-score between <1 and -2.5) indicate low bone density, and there is a greater risk of developing osteoporosis in the future.
Z-score. Compare the test result with that of a population of the same age, sex, and race.
The bone densitometry should be repeated after a few years depending on the results obtained. People with significant bone loss and risk factors for continued bone loss should have the test repeated every 2 years. People with a normal test and no risk factors should repeat it after 10-15 years.
How to treat osteoporosis?
Some people may suggest certain exercises that are done regularly. Others may suggest calcium therapy and hormonal therapy with medications. But unfortunately, many people end up failing, even after they do the suggestions above. Fortunately, there is still a glimmer of hope for them and if you are one of them, that hope is definitely real. We’re talking about Blue Heron Health News.
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