Symptoms & Diagnosis
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones progressively become structurally weak. As the bones weaken, the risk of fracture increases. Because there are often no symptoms of osteoporosis, it is sometimes referred to as a "silent disease." In many cases the first indication of osteoporosis is a broken bone.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation states that osteoporosis is a major health threat, affecting 44 million people in the United States aged 50 or over. Menopause, the natural mid-life hormonal change in women, greatly speeds bone loss; however, men can suffer from excessive bone loss as well. The risk of developing osteoporosis is higher for those who have a family history of the disease, are older, have a thin or small frame, are inactive, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol to excess, and/or have a diet low in calcium and vitamin D.
Osteoporosis prevention and treatment typically includes exercise and adequate calcium and vitamin D levels in the diet. A number of medications are also available to treat osteoporosis. People can take steps to combat the contributing causes of osteoporosis, such as quitting smoking and drinking alcohol, performing weight-bearing exercises, and getting enough calcium and vitamin D.