(Today comes a guest post by Dr Andrew Weissenberger. DrWeissenbergeris a fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), a general practice supervisor and an examiner for the RACGP. )
Osteoporosis means “porous bones” and is a disease where bone density (the thickness of the bone) and structural quality deteriorate, leading to fragile and brittle bones causing an increased risk of fracture than in normal bone.
The bone density and structural quality deterioration occurs from the loss of minerals, such as calcium, from a persons bones more quickly then the body is able to replace them.
This creates thinner, porous bones where even a minor bump or fall can cause a serious fracture in a patient with this condition.
Although both males and females are affected by osteoporosis, women are at a greater risk. This is due to a sharp decline in the level of female hormone oestrogen in the five to ten years following menopause. As oestrogen plays a central role in maintaining bone mass balance, a decrease in this hormone results in accelerated calcium loss in bones.
Although less common, if an osteoporotic fracture occurs in a male these fractures are associated with higher disability and death than in women. Maintaining a good diet with an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D in combination with active exercise can help prevent osteoporosis.
Risk factors for osteoporosis can include the following-
Your family history:
Any family history of osteoporosis and fractures
Your medical history:
Certain conditions and medications have been associated with an increase in osteoporosis risk.
Cortico-steroids (commonly used for Asthma)
Over-active thyroid or parathyroid glands
Coeliac disease and other chronic gut conditions
Chronic liver or kidney disease
The following symptoms may also indicate and increased risk of osteoporosis. For men:
Lack of libido
Other symptoms of low testosterone levels
If your period has stopped for 6-12 consecutive months (excluding pregnancy, menopause or hysterectomy)
If you experience early menopause
Excessive alcohol consumption
Diet lacking in calcium
Lack of sunlight exposure, which may lead to vitamin D deficiency
Sedentary lifestyle over many years
If a person is over the age of 50 and experiences a fracture from a bump or low fall, they should seek medical treatment for possible osteoporosis. Medication is available to increase bone mineral density and reduce the risk of further fractures.
Hope Island Medical Centre will be inviting selected patients to complete a screening survey for osteoporosis in September and October. Please take advantage of this and discuss your Osteoporosis risk factors with your doctor today.