Osteoporosis is a serious condition, which is characterised by brittle and fragile bones. Osteoporosis makes bones much more susceptible to fractures; each year 1 in 5 men and 1 in 2 women break a bone as a result of osteoporosis and 3 million people in the UK are affected by the condition. Older people have a higher risk of osteoporosis because the body decreases its production of bone mass as it gets older; after the age of 25 the density of the bones slowly decreases.
Osteoporosis: risk factors
There are several risk factors which can contribute to osteoporosis; these include:
- A lack of oestrogen in females (commonly associated with the menopause)
- A lack of testosterone in males
- Heavy drinking
- Family history
- Digestive disorders (including coeliac disease and Crohn’s disease)
- Health conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome and problems with liver or thyroid function
Symptoms of osteoporosis
There are no real visible symptoms of osteoporosis and most cases go undiagnosed until a person suffers from a fracture.
Treatment for osteoporosis
Treatment for osteoporosis may include a combination of medication, calcium supplements and hormone treatments.
It is important to take in plenty of calcium to keep the bones strong and healthy. Women that have a family history or osteoporosis or have gone through the menopause may have hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to prevent osteoporosis.