There has been much
recognition of osteoporosis as a women's health problem, but five million
American men are also affected. Even teenagers are not immune, particularly
girls. Osteoporosis causes the bones to weaken and fracture under the
slightest stress. If detected early, it can be prevented and treated before
significant bone loss occurs. Bone tissue can be affected by age, heredity,
unhealthy habits, diet, sex hormones, physical inactivity and certain
be a complication of any chronic disease involving the lungs, liver, kidneys,
GI tract, hormones, and rheumatoid arthritis. Bone loss can occur as a
result of long term use of steroids, thyroid hormone, some anti-convulsant
drugs and chemo-therapies.
Low levels of sex
hormones are the major cause of osteoporosis. Men with low testosterone
levels can be treated with replacement therapy.
with Bone Mineral Density Testing
Women who complete
menopause or suffer loss of menstrual periods should investigate
the possibility of bone loss with a BMD test. The BMD test is quick,
painless, similar to x-ray, and can predict fracture risk.
such as smoking and excessive alcohol intake are known risk factors.
A regular regimen of improved physical activity, especially weight-bearing
exercise or the use of resistance machines, can prevent or slow
the loss of bone with aging.
It is important to
tell your doctor if you detect any loss of height, have sudden back pain
or suffer a fracture with little trauma. A medical workup would include
a complete medical history, x-rays and blood and urine test. Your doctor
can order a bone mineral density (BMD) test at AASTHA to detect low bone
Men and women who
have risk factors should take calcium and, in some instances, Vitamin
D, as a preventative measure. Additional treatments for osteoporosis now
include calcitonin, which comes in a nasal spray, and bisphosphonate alendronate
(Fosamax). Estrogen is the first line of defense against osteoporosis
and the decision whether or not to take estrogen should be carefully considered
with your doctor, who can recommend a specific program of treatment.