What is osteoporosis?





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Published on Dec 17, 2009

As you age beyond your mid-thirties, your body's ability to increase bone mass slows down

What you should know:
• Osteoporosis is a loss of bone mass
•Symptoms include breaks, fracture, and losing your height
•Women are at high risk for the disease

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Hi, I'm Erika Shephard and I'm a CVS pharmacist. Osteoporosis is a thinning and weakening of the bones. This makes them more susceptible to breaking, striking many women after menopause, as well as some elderly men.
As you age, your body's ability to increase bone mass slows down, and after your mid-thirties, it becomes easier to lose bone than to build it. Sometime in your forties or fifties, you gradually start to lose more bone mass than your body produces. This is especially true if your body lacks enough calcium, Vitamin D, and sex hormones like estrogen. This gradual weakening over time makes your bones less dense, brittle, and fragile.
The most common symptoms of osteoporosis are breaks and fractures of the hip, spine, and wrists. Losing your height is one of the earliest signs of osteoporosis, though you may not even notice it at first. This shrinkage is caused by tiny painless and undetected fractures in the backbone. Extreme fractures may cause back pain and even a curvature of the spine that result in a "hump" back.
Women are considered at high risk for the disease if they have low body weight, a low calcium intake, poor health, or a history of osteoporosis in their immediate families. You may also be at risk if you have had anorexia, early menopause, excessive exercise, or an absence of menstrual periods. Alcohol abuse, smoking, high caffeine intake, and a sedentary lifestyle can significantly increase the risk. Kidney disease or an overactive thyroid can also lead to osteoporosis. Risk factors specific to men include low testosterone levels or poor health, including those who take corticosteroid drugs.
I hope this better explains osteoporosis and its symptoms. If you have any questions, talk to a CVS pharmacist. We're here to help.

Source: CVS Caremark Health Resources

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