Understanding Exactly What Osteoporosis Is Will Help Us Fight It!

It is hard to imagine but approximately one and a half million people every year endure a fracture as a direct result of having osteoporosis. Because this disease directly affects the density of all bones a person has, it primarily leaves the spine, hips, and wrist more susceptible to fractures. Unfortunately, a hip fracture in an elderly person can be sometimes fatal because of the other complications that arise as a result of it, such as blood clots and pneumonia.

Just like fibromyalgia women are more likely to have osteoporosis. Of the approximate ten million individuals with this disease eight million are women. Medical experts attribute this to the fact that a woman’s bones are generally less dense anyway and combined with the fact that women experience major hormonal changes after menopause. These hormonal changes typically accelerate the loss of a woman’s bone loss and density.

Under normal conditions a person continues to build bone density faster than they lose it until they are into their mid or late twenties. Yes our bodies are designed to naturally lose bone density during our first almost thirty years but it replaces it faster than we lose it because it is able to produce more calcium. Calcium is the natural mineral within the body that helps to make our bones stronger and more dense. If we lose more calcium within our bones than our bodies can replace it with our bones will begin to become more porous. Unfortunately this starts to begin when we get close to or in our thirties and beyond.

A person who has a smaller frame is more likely to develop osteoporosis because they are already starting off with less bone and in turn once the process of losing more bone density than it can replace it with it just takes less time to arrive at a critical point. However, there is more involved than just this simple fact.

Unfortunately women that have just gone through menopause will lose much more bone density for the next five to seven years than their bodies will be able to replace it with. The good news is that after that five to seven year period of time the process will begin to even out again but never to a point where the bones are gaining density. Current research has shown that some of the reason for this is that as a woman goes through menopause their bodies naturally slow down the production of estrogen which has scientifically shown to be helpful in retaining calcium in the bones.

We know that a certain amount of bone loss is a natural part of the aging process but as I mentioned earlier in this article, certain women who are thinner or have smaller frames seem to be more susceptible to having the disease. Believe it or not women who smoke or drink more than just occasionally are less likely to develop osteoporosis. Now this shouldn’t entice a person to begin smoking or drinking heavily just to reduce their chances of developing this disease since these behaviors come with many more serious consequences. Women who have a family history of osteoporosis or who have had their ovaries removed before the age of forty seem to have a greater chance of developing the disease.

Caucasian and Asian women seem to be more prone to developing this disease as well. On the other hand women that are African American or Hispanic are less likely. There isn’t a lot of scientific studies that seem to point to a specific reason for this but as we know many Asian women are thinner and have smaller frames. On the other hand Caucasian women come in all shapes and sizes so we can’t just point to this as a reason. In addition, there are just as many African American and Hispanic women that are thin and/or have smaller frames as well.

There are medical conditions that also seem to point to reasons that increase an individual’s chances of developing this disease. Medical conditions like Cushing’s syndrome or kidney disease seem to have some association with speeding up the process of bone loss. In addition, other medical conditions like an overactive thyroid or even parathyroid, also points to reasons for developing osteoporosis. Sometimes prescription drugs given to assist with other medical issues tend to have an effect on this potentially crippling disease. Prescription drugs like glucocorticoids prescribed to assist with rheumatoid arthritis and asthma seem to increase bone loss. Also some anti seizure medications have the same affect on bones.

Finally, if an individual is not able to move around like they once were for any number of reasons it will also speed up the process of bone loss. Like anything if you don’t use it we tend to lose it. So it is important to understand that exercise can play a big part in helping our bodies guard against developing osteoporosis or by compensating for the loss of bone density with muscle to help protect them. Exercise as a general rule has so many benefits whether we are trying to help with a specific disease or not, so I highly recommend it.

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