Osteoporosis, in simple words, means hollowing of the bones which takes place over time. When the quantity of bone or atrophy of the tissues present in the skeletal reduces, as a result of aging and is characterized by the lowering of bone mass and loss of standard skeletal micro-architecture, it leads to an increase in susceptibility to fractures, which is medically termed as Osteoporosis. Our bones keep remodeling over a span of a decade in which the older bone cells undergo a process of dissolving thereby getting replaced by the growth of newer bone cells. This process takes place at a very fast rate during childhood and teenage, but once a person crosses the age of 30 years, this process starts moving in a reverse gear where the bone absorption rate by the body overtakes the re-structuring of the new bones, thereby leading to bones become thinner and brittle, a condition more commonly known as Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is likely to hit more in individuals who fail to reach their ideal bone thickness and bone mineral density rate during their childhood or teen years. Let’s consider some of the most common and vital causes which can lead to occurrence of osteoporosis in individuals.
1. Low Estrogen in Women
One of the major reasons for millions of older women being affected with osteoporosis is due to estrogen deficiency in them. Over time, older women experience a drop in their levels of estrogen, close to their menopause as ovaries decrease the production of estrogen, a hormone responsible for protecting bone loss. This leads to acceleration in the rate of bone loss as compared to its replacement, thereby increasing the risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture. Barring this, many thin athletes and young girls with anorexia stop to menstruate which in turn leads to compromised bone density. Also, women who get their ovaries removed surgically, known as bilateral oophorectomy, may even experience osteoporosis due to low bone density.
2. Low Testosterone in men
To maintain bone health in the long run, men require both testosterone and estrogen as the former gets converted into bone-preserving estrogen in cane of men. While evaluating men with the problem of osteoporosis, the foremost thing to look for is whether they have any kind of testosterone deficiency or not. There are other hormones as well which regulate bone density in men like the parathyroid and growth hormone which help to orchestrate the efficiency by which the bones utilize calcium, when to build up or break down and dissolve the existing bone etc. However, too much of parathyroid hormone, known as hyper parathyroid-ism, results in loss of calcium through passage of urine, which in turn causes bones to weaken. With the growing age, the body tends to produce less of growth hormone which the body needs for building strong bones. Hence, osteoporosis in men is commonly seen among the older generation aged above 65 years of age, when their body stops or reduces the production of this hormone.
3. Lack of calcium
Human body undergoes the restructuring and remodeling of the bones throughout its lifespan. This task of rebuilding the bones is impossible if the body is deficient in calcium. Bones act as a reservoir of two mineral sources viz calcium and phosphorus. A constant supply of calcium to the body is a must in order to support other vital organs of your body like the heart, nerves and muscles which tend to procure their quota of calcium from the storehouse of minerals present in your bones. With the passage of time, as a person ages, this mineral reservoir gets depleted, ultimately leading to brittle and hollow bones, causing osteoporosis.
4. Lack of Vitamin D
Another major factor responsible for weak bones and increased bone loss is due to deficiency of Vitamin D in one’s body. Active Vitamin D, also known as calcitriol, acts more like a hormone than just a vitamin supplement as it aids in the absorption and usage of calcium within the body. Any prolonged decrease in its levels can result in extreme cases of osteoporosis.
5. A Sedentary lifestyle
An active life always keeps a person hail and hearty. People who lead a sedentary way of living and do not work-up their bones and muscles, their bones tend to weaken over time. Also, people suffering from physical conditions like muscular dystrophy or paralysis, experience bone loss at a faster pace than others. However, to combat the problem of osteoporosis from hitting you, you can assist yourself by remodeling your bones by undergoing weight-bearing exercises where you end up putting light pressure onto your bones, thereby strengthening them for future betterment.
6. Thyroid conditions
An increase in bone loss has also been witnessed in people having high levels of thyroid hormone present in their body. However, statistics have brought forward that people who have been on high doses of thyroid medications are not in a better position either. Meaning, they are exposed to similar rate of risk of having fractures as is the case with people without thyroid pills. But doctors worldwide still believe that a person who is on high dose of medicine for thyroid hormone rectification can lead a worry-free life of being struck by osteoporosis later on in life, provided he follows a regular exercise regime and takes enough quantities of calcium and Vitamin D to meet his daily requirement of the same. However, along with these lifestyle adaptations, one should monitor his bone density levels by getting tested for the same from time to time.
7. Smoking and Drinking alcohol
Active smokers are exposed to higher risks of fracture and lower bone density as compared to non-smokers. The toxins present in nicotine in cigarettes put a direct adverse effect on bone cells and even restrict the body’s capacity to absorb calcium, estrogen and vitamin-D. Even alcohol consumption restricts bone remodeling and leads to loss of calcium from the body.
There are certain medications, the regular consumption of which can result in bone loss and increased risk of bone fractures. Carticosteroids, commonly known as cortisone, glucocortisoids, hydrocortine and prednisone, to mention some, are drugs often prescribed to treat acute conditions of rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, colitis, psoriasis and a whole lot of other severe ailments. Even anti-seizure drugs have been associated to bone loss, thereby leading to osteoporosis.
9. Medical conditions
There are many medical diseases and conditions which can lead to the person developing osteoporosis due to bone loss, ranging from genetic ones like cystic fibrosis and digestive diseases to blockage and tumors, known as multiple myeloma, which lead to infiltration of bones with abnormal cells. Even abnormal calcium excretion through urine or otherwise, and inability to trap the calcium content within the body can contribute to loss of bone and hence a condition leading to osteoporosis.