Osteoporosis, also known as bone depletion, is a condition that causes more bone tissue to break down than is created. As a result, the bones lose their strength and become more at risk of bone fractures and collapsing vertebrae.
The causes of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis occurs more often in older people. As age progresses, the balance between bone preparation and degradation shifts. Women in or after the menopause are more susceptible to osteoporosis because of the decrease in oestrogen, which means that more bone tissue is broken down. Other causes of primary osteoporosis include:
- A poor and unbalanced diet with too few calcium-rich foods;
- Not enough exercise;
- Lack of sunlight. Exposure to sunlight allows the body to make vitamin D, and vitamin D is needed to help the body absorb the calcium from nutrition.
Certain physical conditions or the use of medicines can also cause osteoporosis. If these factors are the cause of bone depletion, this is called secondary osteoporosis.
The symptoms of Osteoporosis
Brittle bones break more quickly, sometimes without any apparent cause. The vertebrae can collapse. This is accompanied by back pain, a curved spine or a decrease in body length. Muscle pain, nerve pain and organ complaints may also occur due to the changed posture. A doctor can measure bone density to determine osteoporosis.
The prevention and treatment of Osteoporosis
A healthy diet with plenty of calcium (dairy, nuts, vegetables) combined with enough outdoor exercise can help prevent bone loss. A supplement with calcium and/or vitamin D3 can work as a preventive measure, but it is also used as an additional treatment in existing osteoporosis. In case of bone loss, a doctor may prescribe medicines based on bisphosphonates. These drugs cause bone mass to increase.