What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the density of the bones. In most people, bone density reaches a peak around the age of 25-30. After the age of 40, bone starts to be broken down more quickly than it is replaced, and for some people eventually so much tissue is lost that their bones become fragile and prone to fracture. Reduced levels of oestrogen after the menopause accelerate this process, explaining why the condition is seen in four times more women than men.
How do I know if I have osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis can develop silently over many years. Often the first sign of the condition is when a bone fractures surprisingly easily, after a minor bump or fall, or even on picking up something heavy. Back pain and a curvature of the spine can also develop as the vertebrae in the spine weaken.
Am I at risk of developing osteoporosis?
You are more at risk of developing osteoporosis if you:
- Are over 50
- Have experienced an early menopause or had your ovaries removed
- Have a history of previous fractures
- One of your parents has had previous fractures or osteoporosis
- Are of low body weight
- Are on long-term corticosteroid medication
- Have a condition that affects the absorption of food, such as Crohn's disease or coeliac disease