Healthy Living

Am I at Risk for Osteoporosis?

Am I at Risk for Osteoporosis?

Key Takeaways

  • Causes weak and brittle bones.
  • Can affect the quality of life. 
  • Bones tend to break easily. 

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes weak and brittle bones and may affect a person's quality of life. The weak bones tend to break easily, and with mild stress can result in a fracture. This condition often blooms when the body doesn't create new bone at the same speed as the removal of the old bone.

How can you tell whether someone has a higher risk of developing osteoporosis? Doctors usually assess the risk based on the patient's family history, lifestyle habits, and medical history. Moreover, doctors also administer bone density tests for the patient to determine if the patient has osteoporosis.

Understanding the risk factors for this condition can help when taking preventive measures for this brittle bone disease. A number of factors increase the chance of osteoporosis. This includes:

  • Age – This is one of the major risk factors because bones become thin and weak with age. Osteoporosis is more commonly seen among postmenopausal women. The risk is great with age, particularly for those over 50-years-old.
  • Gender – Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis with age compared to men.
  • Race – People of white and Asian decent have increased chances of this condition.
  • Family history – The risk of osteoporosis is greater if the patient has a sibling, or any other close family member, who has this condition. This is particularly true of hip fractures.
  • Body type – This condition is more common in people with a thin body frame and bone structure.
  • History of bone fracture – The risk of osteoporosis is greater if the person has a history of any type of bone fractures as an adult.
  • Hormonal levels – Overactive thyroid glands and high levels of thyroid hormones may result in bone loss and can lead to osteoporosis. Low levels of estrogen, the female hormone, is one of the most common factors for developing this condition. Overactive parathyroid and adrenal glands are also linked to osteoporosis.
  • Dietary factors – Low intake of calcium leads to the reduction of bone density and increased bone loss. Low intake of food, like that of someone who has the dietary disorder anorexia nervosa, may result in reduced absorption of calcium from diet. Gastrointestinal surgery that reduces the surface area for the absorption of nutrients may also lead to weak bones at a later stage.
  • Certain medications – Long term use of certain medications, like corticosteroids, affects bone building in the body and can weaken bones. Drugs used to treat depression, seizures, gastric reflux, and cancer are also known to be linked to the development of osteoporosis.
  • Lifestyle habits – Sedentary lifestyles, alcohol abuse, and excessive tobacco use are all associated with weak bones.