Sunday, 20 October 2013



World osteoporosis day is celebrated on October 20 every year.  It is 'celebrated' by creating awareness about the health problem , its causes and preventive measures. Women are at a greater risk of osteoporosis after menopause which can lead to chances of risk of painful fractures.

Osteoporosis ("porous bones", from Greek: is a progressive disease of the bone that is characterised by a decrease in bone mass and density and that leads to an increased risk of fracture. In osteoporosis the bone mineral density (BMD) is reduced .

In childhood, our bones grow and repair and renew quickly.  Bones stop growing in length between the ages of 16 and 18, but the bones continue to increase in density till the age of late 20s. Bones are the thickest and strongest in early adult life.But as one ages the constant growth , repair and renewal slows down and the bones become weaker and are more susceptible to fractures.
After the age of 35 , one gradually and slowly loses bone density. This is a normal part of ageing, but for some people it can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures and women are at greater after menopause.

               Who are affected by osteoporosis?

Both man and women are affected by this disease but is more common in older people but younger people can be affected.
Women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis than men. This is because changes in hormone levels can affect bone density. The female hormone oestrogen is essential for healthy bones. After the menopause the level of oestrogen in the body falls, and this can lead to a rapid decrease in bone density. 
Women are at even greater risk of developing osteoporosis when:
Some women have menopause before the age of 45.
Some women undergo hysterectomy , a surgical procedure to remove the womb (uterus)
Some women become victims of fad diets.

For most men who develop osteoporosis, the cause is unknown. However, there is a link to the male hormone testosterone, which helps to keep the bones healthy. Men continue to produce this hormone into old age, but the risk of osteoporosis is increased in men with low levels of testosterone.
  • Factors that increase the risk of osteoporosis.
              diseases of the hormone producing glands
              a family history of osteoporosis.
             long-term use of certain medications that affect bone strength or
             hormone levels.
             Heavy drinking and smoking
             A low Body Mass Index of 19 or less 
             Rheumatoid  arthritis
             Some drugs used in Treatment of breast cancer and prostate cancer
             Long periods of inactivity, such as long-term bed rest
             Disorders of pituitary gland


Healthy people usually would not suffer from fractures. Osteoporosis has no outward 

symptoms but  its main consequence is the increased risk of bone fractures and 

hence they are therefore regarded as fragility fractures. Fractures occur in 

the vertebral column, rib , hip and wrist.

A simple cough or a sneeze may cause the fracture of a rib or the partial collapse of one of the bones of the spine.
A fractured bone in an older person can be serious, depending on where it occurs, and can lead to long-term disability. For example, a hip fracture may lead to long-term problems with mobility.
One visible sign of osteoporosis is the characteristic stooping (bent forward) position that develops in older people. It happens when the bones in the spine are fractured, making it difficult to support the weight of the body.

                                           Is osteoporosis painful?
Osteoporosis usually doesn't cause pain unless a bone is broken as a result of the condition. 

                                               Preventing osteoporosis
It is important that people at risk of osteoporosis take steps to help keep bones healthy and reduce their risk of developing the condition. This may include:
  • regular exercise
  • healthy eating
  • lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and reducing or refrain  alcohol intake.

       Certain foods that reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Flax-seeds : These seeds may boost bone density and are good for post-menopausal women.
Sunlight :  is a natural and best source of Vitamin D. Exposure to early morning sun-rays  is beneficial.
Tuna and Salmon are also good sources of Vitamin D.
Ragi (Nachani) is very nutritious.
Dairy products like milk , yogurt and paneer are good sources of calcium.
Nuts , Green leafy veggies and whole grains should be consumed.
Taking of calcium supplements under medical advice.
Preventing fractures, preventing falls :
Simple changes can make a difference e.g. do not leave things lying on the floor,
avoid spillage of water. Special handrails and trailing wires should be fitted for support and easy movement. Place anti-slip mats , which are easily available in the market, in bathrooms and near wash-basins. Use of adult diapers at night means no trips to the toilet at night. 
Go for regular checkups to E.N.T.
Your doctor is your best friend. Seek help and advice from your G.P.
Have regular sight and hearing tests.