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Osteoporosis: Symptoms,
Causes and Prevention

Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease in which bones become weak and are more susceptible to fracture. Often people are not even aware that they are affected with osteoporosis until they suffer a fracture. Elderly people and those afflicted with osteoporosis may be prone to fractures such as hip fractures.

As osteoporosis advances signs and symptoms may appear such as lower back pain, loss of height or what many term "shrinking." This is due to a curving of the spine, which in time may result in a hunchback appearance. Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than their male counterparts. This is likely due in part to the fact that men have a higher bone density than women. Genetic factors may also play a role in the development of osteoporosis.


X-ray of a degenerating hip

People lose bone density as part of the aging process. This tends to accelerate beyond the ages of thirty-five to forty. Other factors such as poor nutrition, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and lack of exercise can add to a person's likelihood of developing osteoporosis.

The condition of our bones is often overlooked since it is not as noticeable as our skin or musculature. You can look at your skin and make an immediate observation such as "My skin is dry." You can look in the mirror and notice fine lines and wrinkles. You make observations about your muscle tone as well. You notice that certain muscles are not as firm as they once were. You notice that you are losing muscle tone but you donít realize that you are losing bone density. By the time you do become aware of this fact, conditions such as osteoporosis could be fairly well advanced.

Such conditions can be detected by x-ray. Anyone with a family history of osteoporosis should consider bone density testing. Of course, as with all conditions such as these prevention is the best medicine, but what can you do to prevent osteoporosis? While you may not be able to prevent it entirely there are steps you can take toward prevention. If you smoke, you may want to consider kicking the habit. Limit alcohol consumption. Exercise and maintain a healthy balanced diet.

Consult with your physician before making any changes to your lifestyle or routine. Your doctor may choose to prescribe medication or recommend a calcium supplement. Talk to your doctor about osteoporosis as well as prevention and treatment. Knowledge is the best line of defense.

Copyright: Darlene Zagata

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