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Keep bones strong - facts about osteoporosis

Osteoporosis causing bone fractures is a common illness for older women. With self-care, however, its progress can be effectively slowed down.

What does osteoporosis mean?

Osteoporosis is a disease in which the amount and quality of bone have been weakened so that the risk of bone fractures has increased. Bone size can be measured, bone quality not. In practice, the reduction in bone volume is a much greater problem than bone loss.

How does osteoporosis appear?

The major challenge of osteoporosis is that it does not cause any symptoms. No one can simply observe whether he or she has osteoporosis by observing his or her own condition. Osteoporosis usually only occurs when a person has, for example, a bone fracture when crashed.

What causes osteoporosis?

Most often, in women, osteoporosis is idiopathic, so the cause is not exactly known. Often, these women are small in size and their bone mass decreases during menopause. This idiopathic osteoporosis is the cause up to 80% of female osteoporosis.

The remaining 20 percent of osteoporosis cases are caused by something else. Often the underlying cause is some other illness, such as celiac disease. Also, long-term use of cortisone, for example, may cause osteoporosis. For men, osteoporosis is due to the same reasons, but the amounts are divided into half by both.

How is osteoporosis diagnosed?

The only way to find osteoporosis is to do bone density measurement, ie DEXA measurement. If the measured bone density differs somewhat from bone density of the same age and gender, one is diagnosed with osteoporosis.

How can osteoporosis be treated by yourself?

In treating osteoporosis, self-care is the most important thing. All exercise is good. Specifically good bone-strengthening events are the best, such as gymnastics, dancing, tennis, nordic walking and running.

In order to prevent falls and tumbles, it is important to develop good balance and muscle tone.

However, it must be remembered that the effect of exercise on bone is always local. For example, a right-handed tennis player may have particularly strong bones in the right hand but left-handed osteoporosis. The bones develop only from the point where they are exercised.

What kind of diet can help with osteoporosis?

When treating osteoporosis, care must be taken that the body has enough building material in use. The best mason can not build fireplace without bricks and mortar. Likewise, the body is unable to build strong bones without important bone building materials, calcium and vitamin D.

Usually people get enough calcium from dairy products. But if they are not used, calcium should be obtained from other sources.

In treating osteoporosis, human vitamin D values are checked by blood test. For bones enough vitamin D is 80-120 nanomolar per liter. Often, a dose of vitamin D supplementation of about 50-100 micrograms is administered to a patient, which is safe for every healthy adult. In practice, however, the amounts vary greatly between people. In addition, it is worth paying attention to the adequate protein intake as it is needed to maintain muscle tone.

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How can osteoporosis otherwise be prevented?

It is important to avoid smoking, in addition to the strengthening of exercise and a good diet. The bone mass is known to decrease faster than those who smoke. Smoking also reduces the bone building process.

How is osteoporosis treated with medicines?

Medication is only started when the risk of fracture is particularly high. Most osteoporotics do not need medication.

When drug therapy is needed, it is used to slow bone decompensation, thereby improving bone strength. Many medicines are taken only once a week, month or year. When bone breakdown slows down, medication can be stopped.

What causes increased risk of osteoporosis?

Age increases the risk of osteoporosis in everyone, as bone mass decreases when aging. But osteoporosis may also become already early in life.

Other factors that increase the risk of osteoporosis include family history of osteoporosis, hip or vertebral fractures, menopause under 45 years of age, ovarian depletion under 45 years of age, underweight, prolonged use of cortisone and bone fracture resulting from a minor injury.

How is gender associated with osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is much more common in women than in men. Women are naturally lighter than men. With age the bones weaken naturally, so men have the potential to lose more bone tissue than women. Estradiol hormone regulates the amount of bone mass in both women and men. In women, the amount of estradiol hormone decreases, especially during and after menopause. Therefore, osteoporosis begins to become more common after menopause.

Women often take care of their health more than men and seek more help with health issues. It may therefore be that this is precisely why women are diagnosed with osteoporosis more than men are.

According to estimates, two out of five women over the age of 50 and one in seven men fracture their wrist, vertebra or hip during the remainder of their lives.

Can bone density be measured in any way other than seeing a doctor first?

For a DEXA measurement it is always required to see a doctor first, but nowadays, reliable ultrasonic measuring devices for bone density measurement have also been developed. They have started to appear in pharmacies, for example.

What kind of signs should you worry about and go to a doctor?

A minor accident, such as a bone fracture, is always a cause for concern. Shrinking of height is also a worrying sign. Shrinking of 2-3 inches is a serious matter. In these cases, you should seek a general practitioner who can forward to bone density measurement and, if necessary, additional treatment.

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