According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, more than 44 million Americans aged 50 and older either have or face the threat of developing osteoporosis due to low bone density levels. Projections put this number at more than 60 million by 2020. Across the world, a fracture due to osteoporosis happens about once every three seconds, causing nearly 9 million fractures—just from stress being put on weak bones.
Osteoporosis is treatable, reversible, and can be prevented for longer periods of time with the knowledge of what it is and how to attack it. So let’s dig into osteoporosis to find out what it is, how to notice it, its causes, and what to do once you or a loved one have it.
Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease that causes the loss of bone mass and bone tissue. Over the course of your life, old bone is removed from your body through a process called resorption, and new bone replaces it through formation, according to the National Resource Center for Osteoporosis and Other Bone Diseases.
However, there comes a time when your body can no longer keep up with the amount of bone you are losing. Most humans reach their “peak bone mass” in their early 20s, and then your body slowly (very slowly) starts lose more bone than it creates. This process takes a long time, though, especially when it comes to impacting the strength of your bones. The resource center also says that the process of resorption usually starts to outpace the process of formation by the time you hit 30, whether you’re a man or a woman. In most cases, men develop more bone over the course of their lives than women do, which leaves women more susceptible to suffering from osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis has onset once your bones get to a point where they are brittle, weaker, and easily broken. There are little to no symptoms of the disease, so easily breaking a bone may be the first sign that you have osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a large reason why seniors falling is such a big deal. If bones become easier to break, they also become a lot harder to heal, because not as much bone is being created to heal the fracture. The longer bones take to heal—especially hips and legs—the longer the elderly have to stay in the hospital. Longer hospital stays have been proven to show increased rates of mortality. They’re are related to increased complications while you’re in the hospital, because you’re more likely to develop more issues the longer you stay. You can even reach a point where your bones are no longer able to completely heal themselves, which causes issues with normal daily routines for the rest of your life.
Osteoporosis can develop from a wide range of reasons, some of them medical (like autoimmune diseases, cancer and mental illness), and some of them from medications you take that can have bone loss as a side effect. This is why more than 10 million people have been officially diagnosed with osteoporosis. Let’s take a look at what exactly causes it to develop. Continue reading….