Monday, 31 October 2011

Osteoporosis-Myths and Realities

Osteoporosis or commonly called as bone thief,is again a silent killer like many other NCDs'(non contagious disease).
Disease actually causes gradual thinning of bones i.e.,low bone mass and loss of bony tissue over the period of time may be years.It is perhaps one of the most common bone related disease. WHO data suggest significant prevalence of Osteoporosis,which is effecting millions worldwide,without people being aware of it.
Osteoporosis leads to fractures especially in areas like,spine,wrist,hip,skull,etc.if not taken seriously these fractures can make a person invalid or handicap for life.At times,few fractures may be non traumatic or not caused by any injury,these are tough to investigate as patients are not able elicit their condition and just complain of severe unbearable pain and complications depending upon the bone/joint involved.
Bones are formed by minerals-calcium and phosphorus –the most important ones.Calcium is required by the body to run its some very vital organs,eg,heart.Osteoporosis starts when due to some reasons body is unable to maintain daily requirement of calcium intake from unhealthy diet/any other pathological condition, thus it starts using  stored calcium deposits which is found in abundance in bony cage.Over the period of time gradually bones become weaker and thinner,there by a slight trauma may cause fracture..
1.Insignificant number of patients only suffer Osteoporosis.
  • It is again a silent disease effecting millions worldwide and is increasing by leaps and bounces due to lack of awareness and poor understanding of disease.
2.Disease effects only third world countries or poor economies.
  • A myth,every 2 out of 10 American suffer from some kind Osteoporosis,though it is primarily related to nutrition ,other factors also play  significant roles.
3.Osteoporosis effects only white females.
  • Yes,some data suggest a slight increase in white females and Asian racial groups non the less it effects both genders equally and can happen irrespective to age,race and place.
4.Osteoporosis begins after menopause.
  • Yes,condition deteriorates faster after menopause but to say that Osteoporosis begins after menopause is a myth,instead bone mass and density along with your lifestyle and diet at childhood and adolescence are the determinants of developing Osteoporosis in Adults.
  • Osteoporosis develops gradually over years but in certain few illness and side effects of medication like steroids,can develop in weeks or months,though lately such cases are rarely seen.
5.Osteoporosis has a genetic trail.
  • You are not doomed to develop Osteoporosis,just because some blood relation had suffered.With proper diet,alteration in life style and understanding of disease ,genetic risk can be overcome.
6.Osteoporosis has few risk factors.
  • A strong myth,there are many factors causing disease,which include
    • History of non traumatic/stress fractures.
    • Irregular menopause,late starter of menses,history of amenorrhea without pregnancy.
    • Small and thin built.
    • Certain medical conditions-Diabetes,Kidney and liver disease,certain hormonal imbalance,anorexia nervosa,etc.
    • Certain medications-Corticosteroids,steroids,heparin,certain anti-convulsants,furosemide,certain antacids,increased levels of thyroid hormone,etc.
    • Lack of sun exposure.(vitamin D deficiency).
    • Alcohol.
    • Smoking.
    • Inactivity or sedentary lifestyle.
    • list is not exhaustive.
7.Taking milk products daily covers risk of Osteoporosis.
  • A  strong myth,cow milk has certain high quantities of calcium but human body is unable to absorb it fully,secondly high content of phosphorus in milk excrete urinary calcium.
  • It is not that milk products have no use instead,diet rich in calcium supplements,essential amino acids and other nutrients/minerals hold the key of healthy and sturdy bones.
8.Only Calcium supplements are required.
  • Yes,calcium supplementation is required but along with other nutrients and minerals play a vital role in general upkeep of healthy bones.
  • Minerals and Vitamins-Vit.D,Vit-B complex,Vit-C,Vit-K,Magnesium,silica,essential fatty acids.
9.All Calcium supplements are same.
  • No,few forms of calcium are better absorbed and tolerated then others.
  • Watch the labels for calcium citrate and chelates.
  • Avoid calcium carbonate,as poorly absorbed.
10.Only Estrogen hormone therapy increases bone density.
  • A Myth again ,estrogen only decreases bone loss .it in no way increases bony mass or density.
  • Reports have suggested  excess synthetic estrogen has been linked to risk of Bbreast and ovarian cancer.
  • Hormonal therapy should be initiated after conducting related test and after consulting relevant health consultant.
11.Present investigative tools aren't accurate.
  • A Myth again,there are many reliable tools these days,
  • Bone density test-DEXA SCAN(dual energy X-Ray absorptiometery),is the Gold test-informs about density of bones,risk and seriousness of Osteoporosis.
  • Quantitative Computed Tomography is used in certain conditions.
  • Certain Lab.Test have direct and indirect reference to Osteoporosis-
    • Blood Calcium levels.
    • Blood Vit.-D levels.
    • Thyroid Function Test.
    • Parathyroid Function Test.
    • Estradiol levels.
    • Estrogen levels in females.
    • Follicle stimulating hormone in females to establish menopausal status.
    • Testosterone levels in Males.
    • Osteo calcium levels to guess about rate and quality of bone formation.
    • Urine Test-24 hours collection to check 24 hours calcium metabolism

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