Accelerated bone loss after menopause is a major cause
of osteoporosis in women, and preventive action is the only recourse.
The ageing process brings in its wake a
series of changes in the body. As we grow wiser, we also realise that our body
that was once at our command will not be so all our lives. As muscles weaken,
eyes give in, hair turns grey and skin loses its sheen, you realise that your
body has weathered a lot. Bone mass or density is lost as we age. This happens
in both men andwomenbut it is
especially aggravated in women after menopause. Theboneslose calcium,
vitamin D and other minerals and start losing their density.
In extreme cases they become abnormally porous and fragile and extremely
susceptible to fractures. This extreme condition is often described as
osteoporosis and can become a dangerous for the elderly. This is why we hear
about so many hip, knee and shoulder fractures in older people. It is therefore
important to understand the way the condition works and aggravates.
As a part of the ageing processes both men and women lose their bone density by
0.3% to 0.5% after the age of 35 years. In women estrogen (a hormone) is
important to maintain bone density. When estrogen levels drop after menopause,
the loss of bone density accelerates. Deficiency of calcium and vitamin D can
aggravate osteoporosis, though it is not the main and only cause.
According to estimates, as many as 25 million Indians are likely to be affected
by osteoporosis. In fact, in India osteoporotic fractures may occur at a
younger age than in the West. Recent research and studies have pointed out to
widespread vitamin D deficiencies across India. The high prevalence of vitamin
D deficiency is a major factor in the poor bone health of Indians. Poor
sunlight exposure and a vitamin D-deficient diet are some obvious causes.
The bad news is that osteoporosis will be present in the human body without any
symptoms for decades and it doesn't cause symptoms until the bones start
fracturing. Moreover, some osteoporotic fractures may escape detection for
years when they do not cause symptoms. Hence, the patients may not be aware of
their osteoporosis problem until they suffer from a painful fracture. Depending
on the location of fracture the symptoms differ but the usual symptom is pain
Risk factors for osteoporosis:
Poor nutrition and a diet low in calcium and vitamin D
Low estrogen levels
Chemotherapy that can cause early menopause due to its toxic effects on the
Menstruation and intense exercise and anorexia is also a factor
Rheumatoid arthritisor liver diseases
Immobility after a stroke
Hyperthyroidis or the problem of excessive sweating
Long-term use of anti-seizure medications and long-term use of oral steroids.
The age old
adage that prevention is better than cure holds 100 per cent in the case of
osteoporosis. In fact, the only way to prevent osteoporosis is to start working
with your bones when they are still young. Do not let bone loss to set in early
by faulty practices.
Eat a calcium
Ensure adequate exposure to the sun for vitamin D
Get a routine bone density check-up after the age of 35