The Medical Minute: Osteoporosis

May 26, 2010 By Edward J. Fox

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become thin. As a result, the bones are more likely to break. Bones most often affected are in the hip, spine and wrist, but the ribs and other bones also are at risk.

Nearly 25 million Americans have osteoporosis and most of them are women above the age of 60. Men are also vulnerable to the disease. In the early stages of osteoporosis there are no signs or symptoms, which is why it has the nickname “the silent disease.” The loss of bone progresses gradually until a bone breaks. Other signs are a loss of height and bad posture.

Common Osteoporosis Risk Factors:

• Older than 65 years of age
• Broke a bone after age 50
• Close relative has osteoporosis or has broken a bone
• Health is fair or poor
• Smokes
• Underweight for height
• Started menopause before age 45
• Lack of calcium intake
• Has two or more drinks of alcohol several times per week
• Has poor vision even with glasses
• Sometimes falls
• Not physically active

Patients who have one of the following medical conditions may be prone to osteoporosis:

• Hyperthyroidism
• Chronic lung disease
• Cancer
• Inflammatory bowel disease
• Chronic hepatitis or renal disease
• Hyperparathyroidism
• Vitamin D deficiency
• Cushing’s Disease
• Multiple Sclerosis
• Rheumatoid arthritis

Patients who take the following medicines may be prone to osteoporosis:

• Oral glucocortoids (steroids)
• Cancer treatment (radiation, chemotherapy)
• Thyroid medicine
• Antiepileptic medications
• Gonadal hormone suppression
• Immunosuppressive agents

A physician may suggest a bone density scan for patients in a high-risk group to determine if some form of treatment to prevent or treat is needed. This is especially true for women around menopause when estrogen levels fall. There are several techniques for measuring density, and they are safe and painless.

Explore further: Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How to ... avoid burnout

Feb 06, 2009

Burnout - a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion -- leaves people feeling hopeless about the future. Here are tips from therapists on staying healthy.

Unrequited Love: How to Stay Friends

Jan 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Unrequited romantic feelings don't have to sink friendships, according to research by Michael Motley, a professor of communication at the University of California, Davis.

Desperately seeking...

Feb 24, 2009

Sunday's Academy Awards clearly left many of us wanting more. Here are five hot Oscar-related search terms from Monday, as tracked by Google Trends:

How to kick a soda habit

Feb 20, 2009

Soda is loaded with more calories, sugar and chemicals than many people realize. Here are nutritionists' tips for cutting it out.

Recommended for you

Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

18 hours ago

Britain on Sunday lifted all restrictions at a duck farm in northern England after last month's outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, the same strain seen in recent cases across Europe.

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

Dec 20, 2014

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

Dec 20, 2014

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.