Osteoporosis (ah-stee-o-per-o-sis) is a disease where you lose bone tissue. It happens when the body does not make enough new bone. Osteoporosis may also happen when too much old bone is reabsorbed (used up) by the body.
Calcium and phosphorous are minerals needed to make bone. Bone tissue cannot be made if you do not get enough calcium in your diet. Also, the body will take these minerals out of old bone if there is not enough coming into the body in what you eat. This causes bones to get brittle, weak, and fracture (break) very easily. These bone fractures may happen because of a fall. Often doing simple things like lifting something heavy can break a bone in your back. Osteoporosis is a life-long condition but you can keep it from getting worse.
The exact cause of osteoporosis is not known. The following may put you at a higher risk of having osteoporosis:
There are no early signs of osteoporosis. Bone loss happens slowly over many years. Often the first time a caregiver learns that you have osteoporosis is when you break a bone. By this time, the osteoporosis is in the later stages and a lot of bone damage has happened. Following are some of the later signs of osteoporosis.
Regular exercise can slow down osteoporosis. Not smoking, drinking little to no alcohol (beer, wine, hard alcohol), decreasing salt, caffeine, and protein can reduce osteoporosis risk.
Lose weight if you weigh too much. This decreases the strain on the joints in your back, hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Talk to your caregiver about a diet to keep your weight under control.
Several therapies are available to prevent or treat osteoporosis, including:
Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.
You may need blood or urine tests, x-rays, CT scan, or bone densitometry. These tests may need to be done again to learn if there has been a change during or after treatment.
Other ways to treat osteoporosis (if you have symptoms or not) are available to you.
Talk to your caregiver if:
You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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