Osteoporosis is a common medical condition among older people. It weakens your bones and makes them more vulnerable to fracture from falls. In severe cases, a minor knock or even just sneezing can break a bone. Today's blog will explain the causes of osteoporosis in detail.
Did you know that bone is living tissue? It changes throughout your life; old bone is continuously broken down and replaced with new bone. Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose mass and develop an irregular tissue structure. This happens when the body fails to form sufficient new bone and/or too much old bone is reabsorbed by the body.
Who Is at Risk of Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis and broken bones are more common in women because:
- Bones lose strength faster after menopause, as oestrogen levels decrease.
- Women tend to have smaller bones; this increases the likelihood of fractures.
- On average, women tend to live longer, and bones get weaker with age.
However, other factors in men (such as low testosterone levels) can also impair bone strength. 20% of men over 50 will suffer a bone fracture as a result of poor bone strength.
The most common causes of osteoporosis among men and women alike are:
- Low body weight.
Ageing reduces bone strength when the body breaks down more bone tissue than it can produce. People naturally lose bone density – and bone-strengthening nutrients like calcium and other minerals – as they get older, especially post-menopause women. This is one of the main causes of osteoporosis.
Low body weight may mean you may have less bone tissue than normal and, in older people, can result in less fat cushioning the hips. Therefore, fractures are more likely in the event of a fall. Genetic factors are crucial in determining bone strength and contribute significantly to bone loss as you get older.
Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle
You can’t do anything about your family history or the ageing process, but you can lower your risk of osteoporosis caused by low body weight. If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is less than 18.5, you’re underweight, and your doctor may be able to put you on a weight gain programme.
Leading a healthy lifestyle in general will also help to reduce your risk of osteoporosis and broken bones. You can make sure your bones remain as healthy as possible by maintaining a nutritious diet and trying to stay active.
The most important nutrients to keep your bones in good condition are:
- Vitamin B.
- Vitamin D.
On the other hand, there are few foods and drinks that may can damage your bone health if you consume too much:
Exercise is a strong defence against osteoporosis, as long as you don’t overdo it. Staying active builds and maintains strong bones.
The NHS stresses the importance of regular physical activity to help keep your bones strong and reduce the risk of a fracture through osteoporosis. However, if you're at risk of osteoporosis, you may need to avoid high-impact exercises.
Osteoporosis Can Sneak Up on You
Like high blood pressure, medical professionals often call osteoporosis “a silent disease”. They use this term because bone loss happens gradually over the years and may initially show no symptoms.
You may be unaware you have osteoporosis until a minor fall causes a bone to break. These “fragility fractures” are often the first sign of osteoporosis. They frequently occur in the wrist and, with older people, the hip.
According to the Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS), broken bones are not an inevitable result of osteoporosis. Nevertheless, the ROS says a broken bone can be a good indicator of osteoporosis. Healthy bones should be able to withstand a knock or the impact of a fall from standing height.
Another indication of the condition is loss of height. This could be a result of fractures caused by abnormal curvature of the spine.
Understanding the Causes of Osteoporosis
While fragile bones may not produce any early warning signs, understanding the common risk factors and causes of osteoporosis can alert you to the problem before you break a bone.
Besides ageing, family history and being underweight, other underlying common causes of osteoporosis include drinking too much alcohol and smoking, which slows down cells that build bone. People of Caucasian or Asian origin are more at risk than those with Afro-Caribbean backgrounds, who typically have stronger and larger bones.
Certain medications can weaken the bones, making you more prone to osteoporosis. These include:
- Medications for epilepsy.
- Steroid tablets, if taken for more than three months.
- Prostate cancer treatments.
- Breast cancer treatments such as aromatase inhibitors.
Just as some medications can increase your risk of osteoporosis, so can certain medical conditions, including:
Living with Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis can be a painful condition. It can limit mobility, which may in turn lead to depression or feelings of isolation. Fractures are a major complication of osteoporosis, particularly in older people. In severe cases, some patients require long-term nursing home care.
To learn more about osteoporosis, including the common symptoms and treatments, read our in-depth guide.
Personal Alarm Information
Our personal alarm system is ideal for people suffering from conditions like osteoporosis. If you are particularly prone to falling, we'd recommend getting a fall detector. This pendant automatically detects when the wearer has fallen and sends an alert to our 24/7 Response Team - without the wearer having to press any buttons.
What's more, osteoporosis qualifies you for VAT Exemption on your new alarm. For more information, please speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our Contact Us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.