Osteoporosis is characterized by a deterioration of bone tissue, making bones weaker and more vulnerable to fractures.
Statistics on osteoporosis
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 8 men have osteoporosis;
- The number of cases of osteoporosis increases 15% each year;
- 80% of fractures among people 60 years old and over are due to osteoporosis;
- The hips, wrists and spine are most vulnerable to fractures in patients with osteoporosis.
Symptoms of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is dubbed the “silent disease” because it is difficult to detect. People can experience bone loss for many years without ever being aware of it. When osteoporosis is diagnosed after a fracture, the disease is already at an advanced stage.
Not many symptoms can indicate the presence of osteoporosis. Certain signs can deliver a few clues, however. These are:
- Back pain
- Bent back
- Loss of height over time
- Fractures of the hips, wrists or vertebrae.
Causes of osteoporosis
The exact causes of osteoporosis remain unknown at the present time. But we know that in women, the rate of bone loss is further diminished by menopause as a result of the decrease in estrogen production.
In men, bone loss is gradual and the risk of developing osteoporosis increases at around age 70.
Certain risk factors are also involved in the development of the disease:
- Age (being over 65 years of age)
- Fracture after 40
- Family history of the disease (mother-daughter)
- Oral corticosteroid use for more than 3 months
- Premature menopause (before 45 years of age)
- Other medical conditions (i.e. celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, hyperthyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Lack of exercise
- Lack of calcium, vitamin D (a vitamin essential for the metabolizing of calcium and its absorption by the body)
- Caffeine or alcohol abuse
- Caffeine or alcohol abuse
- Tobacco use
The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to undergo an annual screening test called a bone densitometry, which must be prescribed by a doctor. Men and women over the age of 65 and menopausal women who are at risk for the disease should take this test.
A healthy lifestyle can also help to prevent osteoporosis. Here are a few tips:
- Get some exercise
- Increase your calcium intake (milk, dark green vegetables, salmon, soy)
- Increase your intake of vitamin D (fish, milk, eggs)
- Get moderate sun exposure
- Reduce your coffee intake (2 cups per day)
- Reduce your alcohol intake (2 glasses per day)
- Stop smoking
- Eat a sufficient amount of protein.
In addition, supplements may play a preventive role. People 50 and over should take two 500 mg doses of calcium every day (at breakfast and dinner) for a total of 1000 mg. And to promote calcium absorption, a dose of 800 IU of vitamin D is also required.
To effectively treat osteoporosis, prescription medications and calcium and vitamin D supplements must be taken. There are a variety of medications, some of which help to slow bone loss. Treatment must also include a regular exercise program.
Be sure to discuss your treatment plan with your doctor or pharmacist.
In-store health services
Do you have questions about osteoporosis and its treatment? Talk to your pharmacist. He’s there to help!
In addition, there are many professional pharmacy services available to help you alleviate the symptoms of osteoporosis: