Osteoporosis defines a group of illnesses of a number of origins that are characterized by a decrease of the amount of calcium in the bones. The bones become more fragile and fracture more easily; they cannot play their supporting role anymore. Fractures are more often located in the hip, wrist and spine areas. More than 70% of all fractures in people aged 45 and over are caused by osteoporosis.
This disease is divided in two main classes: primary and secondary osteoporosis. Primary osteoporosis is the most common and is not related to another illness. It mostly affects women between the ages of 50 and 65 (post-menopausal osteoporosis) and people over 75 (age-related osteoporosis). Regarding secondary osteoporosis, it has a number of causes: prolonged treatment with cortisosteroids or heparin, overactive thyroid gland, immobilization, deficient absorption of calcium, bone cancer, cirrhosis, etc.
People that are most likely to suffer from osteoporosis present many attributes among the following: female gender, advanced age, small bone structure, early menopause, family history of osteoporosis, diet low in calcium, lack of exercise, tobacco use and excess consumption of alcool or caffeine.
People suffering from osteoporosis may be asymptomatic, but they may also experience pain in their bones; this pain is treated using analgesics (pain medication) and by resting. Since osteoporosis has a diverse number of causes, it is easier to prevent it than to cure it. Prevention requires identifying and eliminating risks factors if possible, exercising regularly according to our capacities and with a regular intake of calcium (dietary intake is easier to assimilate for the body) or taking calcium supplements with vitamin D added, if necessary.
Fractures caused by osteoporosis occur mostly in older people. To prevent their occurence, all the means necessary must be taken for these people to avoid falls. Then, watching out for ice patches in winter, cluttered rooms and loose carpeting is crucial. Medication that affect the coordination or reflexes must also be used with caution.