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Health Issues

We welcome you back to the Internal Medicine Specialties website. Our health topic for this quarter will be on Osteoporosis. What is Osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes the bones in the body to become thin and fragile and break during otherwise normal daily activities. Both men and women can develop Osteoporosis as they age. Women who have gone through menopause are at the greatest risk.

RISK FACTORS:

Risk factors for Osteoporosis in both men and women include:

1. Family history in father, mother, or a sibling.

2. Smoking.

3. Alcohol use. Drinking more than one alcoholic beverage a day increases the risk of Osteoporosis.

4. Lack of exercise (exercises such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing, weight lifting) keeps bones strong and healthy.

5. Thin body build. Thin people are more likely to develop Osteoporosis compared to overweight individuals.

6. Low dietary intake of vitamins and calcium.

7. Taking certain medications such as steroids on a long term basis.

8. Certain medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism increases the risk of Osteoporosis.

9. Race also plays a role. Osteoporosis is common in Caucasians and in people of Asian ancestry.

10. Osteoporosis is common in eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa.

11. Immobility.

12. Post menopausal state due to lack of estrogen.

SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF OSTEOPOROSIS:

What are the usual symptoms and signs? Osteoporosis is usually asymptomatic until fractures occur. The basic symptoms could include:

1. Broken bones especially of the hip, small bones of the spine and the wrist.

2. Getting shorter in height.

3. Development of a hump.

4. Back pain.

FURTHER DIAGNOSIS:

Osteoporosis is diagnosed by medical history, physical examination, and bone density test. Early diagnosis can reduce the risk of having the above symptoms, especially any fractures. Prevention of Osteoporosis includes taking steps to improve a healthy lifestyle, i.e., stop smoking, getting regular exercise, and eating a balanced diet and taking bone-enhancing supplements.

TREATMENT OF OSTEOPOROSIS:

Treatment includes getting regular exercise, a diet with enough calcium and Vitamin D supplements, and also in people not getting these supplements in their diets, taking calcium and Vitamin D oral preparations. There are also medications to reduce bone loss and increase bone mass. Overall, we encourage you to see your family doctor if you have an increased risk as indicated above for screening and treatment.

Thank You