Osteoporosis is a condition wherein your bones become weak and fragile. It is predominantly a disease of the elderly and is mostly noticed in women after menopause. Estrogen, the female sex hormone, has a protective effect on the bones. After menopause there is a decrease in estrogen thereby leading to weakening of the bones. All postmenopausal women more than 50 years, especially if they present with a fracture, should be evaluated for osteoporosis.
Low intake of calcium rich food and vitamin D deficiency both contribute to deterioration in bone health. Intake of alcohol, smoking, chronic abuse of steroid medications, prolonged periods of inactivity all contribute to osteoporosis. Those with a family history of osteoporosis or hip fracture are also at an increased risk of osteoporosis. Sometimes osteoporosis can also present at a younger age. Detailed evaluation of these patients is necessary as osteoporosis may be one of the manifestations of a much more serious condition that the patient might be harbouring. Furthermore, the osteoporosis can be reversed by treating this underlying condition.
The diagnosis of osteoporosis is made based on an investigation called as Bone mineral density estimation. This is done by a DXA scan. The major concern of osteoporosis is that the weakening of bones leads to increased risk of fractures. Most of the times there may not be any trauma leading to these fractures. The spine and hip are especially at a higher risk for developing osteoporotic fractures. Spinal fractures generally go unnoticed and ppatients frequently present with just chronic backache or with stooping forward position.
One of the keys to prevent osteoporosis is to maintain a healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise, decreased consumption of alcohol and smoking, healthy eating habits with consumption of diet adequate in calcium, regular exposure to sunlight for Vitamin D levels and control of other comorbidities such as diabetes. There are multiple medications which are available to treat osteoporosis and prevent fractures. These acts either by preventing bone loss or by increasing new bone formation. Consult your endocrinologist to get the treatment appropriate for your condition.