- What are the different types of osteoporosis?
- What are the causes and risk factors of osteoporosis?
- What are the symptoms and complications of osteoporosis and determining factors for bone strength?
- How is osteoporosis diagnosed?
- How is osteoporosis treated and what is the prognosis for the condition?
- Vital information on osteoporosis and FAQs
Vital information on osteoporosis and FAQs
How will pregnancy affect the bones?
In order for a baby to develop strong bones, he/she will need a sufficient amount of calcium in the womb (in utero) and will get this from the food his/her mother eats and the vitamin supplements taken during pregnancy. Some pregnant women may not get enough calcium, in this case, the body will take calcium from the bones which can weaken them.
Because of this, pregnant women need to ensure that they are getting enough vitamin D and calcium. It is advised that an expectant mother speaks to her doctor about how much calcium and vitamin D is required and whether additional supplementation is necessary.
Can breastfeeding lead to bone loss?
Bone loss can occur during breastfeeding, however, this loss is normally temporary. There have been a number of studies that indicate that if women suffer from bone loss when breastfeeding, they will recover their full bone density within a period of six months after they have stopped breastfeeding5.
How can I prevent my bones from weakening?
The best way to ensure the strength of bones is to try to build strong bones. Evidently, building strong bones during childhood and youth is the best way to lower the risks of osteoporosis as we age. Regardless of one’s age though, it is never too late to begin building stronger bones.
It is important to ensure that sufficient calcium is consumed daily. This can be achieved through consuming calcium rich foods or drinks or through vitamin supplementation.
It is also vital to get enough vitamin D every day as this helps the body to absorb calcium from the diet.
According to Women’s Health5, it is also advised that one gets 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight on the face, arms and hands at least three times a week. This time may vary depending on one’s skin sensitivity to the sun, skin colour and the amount of pollution that is present in the air as this can alter UV penetration.
The following is a list of the amount of calcium that is recommended for adults:
- Women who are pre-menopausal and are between the ages of 25 and 50, as well as menopausal women who are on oestrogen-replacement therapy should have 1,000-1,200 milligrams of calcium daily. If you are pregnant or lactating then 1,500 milligrams are recommended.
- Women who are postmenopausal and are less than 65 years old and are not on oestrogen-replacement therapy should take 1,500 milligrams per day.
- Men between the ages of 25 and 65 should have 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily.
- People who are over the age of 65 should have 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily.
It is beneficial to eat a diet that is calcium-rich. Some of these foods include:
- Dairy products
- Dark and leafy vegetables
- Peas and beans
- Some fish
- Calcium-fortified foods (cereals, milk and juices)
Vitamin D intake
The following is a list of the amount of vitamin D that is recommended for adults:
- People over the age of 50 (including women who are postmenopausal) should have 400 to 500 IU (international units) per day. Some people who are over the age of 65 may have to have 600 IU.
- People who are between the ages of 25 and 50 (including premenopausal women) should have 400 UI of vitamin D per day.
Vitamin D-rich foods
It is beneficial to eat a diet that is vitamin D-rich. It can sometimes be difficult to obtain vitamin D through foods as the supplement is found in a number of fatty foods such as:
- Egg yolks
- Salmon and cod liver oil
Fortunately, there is a wide range of vitamin D fortified foods available such as:
- Orange juice
**My Med Memo – Fortified foods will have vitamins and nutrients present in them or added to them when being processed that are not normally found in the food.
What if I am lactose intolerant, how can I ensure I am getting enough calcium?
Lactose is the sugar that is found in dairy products and can sometimes be difficult for some people to digest. If you are lactose intolerant, there are a number of food options available that do not contain lactose. These include:
- Lactose-free dairy products
- Collard greens
- Turnip greens
- Mustard greens
- Chinese cabbage
- Bok choy
There is also a wide range of calcium-containing vitamins and supplements that you can buy from your local pharmacy.
What is osteopenia?
Osteopenia is a severe risk factor for the development of osteoporosis and refers to the thinning of bone mass. Osteopenia occurs in people who are over the age of 50 and have a bone density that is lower than average (indicated by a T-score of between -1 and -2.5). Bear in mind, however, that people who have osteopenia do not have osteoporosis, they just have a higher susceptibility.
Do men get osteoporosis?
Men are also susceptible to developing osteoporosis, although their risk factors are lower than those of women. Men who are over the age of 50 have a greater risk for osteoporosis, particularly if they already suffer from fractures.5
Does osteoporosis have a cure?
There is currently no cure for osteoporosis, however, there are a number of treatment options that may be able to prevent, stop or slow down the progress of the disease. In some cases, a sufferer might be able to improve bone density and even reverse the damage to some extent.
Is osteoporosis a natural part of ageing?
Osteoporosis is more likely to occur when one is older, however, the condition is not an inevitable part of ageing6.
What is the difference between a break and a fracture?
A fracture is a clinical term for a bone that is broken, the two terms are often used interchangeably. A fracture is able to range in severity, for example, a hairline fracture is a tiny crack in the bone, however, a compound fracture is more serious and occurs when the fractured/broken bone punctures through the skin.
What is osteoporotic bone?
Osteoporotic bone is bone that is affected by osteoporosis and is at risk of fracturing. Bone loss in osteoporosis will occur progressively and silently, there are often no visible symptoms until a fracture occurs.
What are the complications and dangers of broken bones?
Osteoporosis can be a severe and in some cases, fatal condition that often leads to bone fractures. The most common of which is a hip fracture. Some patients may die from a hip fracture within the first year after hip replacement surgery as this may lead to a number of issues. Some of these include:
- Anaesthesia complications
- Infection among older adults
- Heart attack
Do bones only break from a fall or trauma?
The majority of people will suffer from a fracture if they suffer a serious fall, in those with osteoporosis, bones may break on their own without significant injury, often when performing daily activities such as walking or bending over. These are sometimes referred to as spontaneous fractures and occur when the bones are very weak.
Is it possible for me to feel my bones getting weaker?
It is not possible to see or feel the development of osteoporosis, the associated bone loss and its weakening effect on the bones. The sufferer will generally not experience any consequences or lifestyle changes immediately. Osteoporosis is a silent disease and is only detected through a bone density test or when a fracture occurs as a result of the condition.
Can porous bones regain their strength?
Bones affected by osteoporosis will never be able to reach the bone density they had before the disease developed. However, it is often possible, through early diagnosis and treatment for bone to rebuild itself to a degree and improve bone density over a few years following treatment.
What is the function of bone in the body
Forming part of the incredible machine that is the body, bones are a vital part of the musculoskeletal system. They provide structure and stability, have the amazing ability to rebuild themselves, produce red blood cells and regulate levels of calcium in the body. On top of all of this, bones make up a massive system of levers that allow movement.
Comprised of living tissue containing blood vessels, marrow and nerves, bones regenerate on a constant basis. Without this process of continual reinforcement, broken bones would be a common occurrence.
5. Office on Women’s Health. Osteoporosis. Available: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/osteoporosis [Accessed 31.08.2017]
6. New York State. August 2015. The Facts About Osteoporosis. Available: https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2047/index.htm [Accessed 05.09.2017]