Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease that usually impacts older women. The disease is characterized by a gradual loss in bone density. Osteoporosis is known as the silent disease. It takes a long period of time and several tests to diagnose the disease. Although several new treatment options are now available, the long-term effectiveness of these treatments is not known. Additionally, some treatments pose increased risk for the development of other diseases.
Osteoporosis is a debilitating, bone-thinning disorder . The disease causes the bones to weaken until eventually, they are susceptible to even the slightest form of trauma . Statistics released by the National Osteoporosis Foundation indicate that one out of every two women over the age of 50 will suffer from an osteoporosis-related fracture . Age and low body weight are confirmed risk factors in the development of osteoporosis, as is a low level of physical activity, smoking, excessive caffeine or alcohol intake, and low levels of vitamin D and calcium intake . Osteoporosis is known as the silent disease in that it progresses slowly and does not display obvious symptoms.
Postmenopausal women are at the greatest risks for developing osteoporosis . Experts state that by the time women reach the age of 55 they have already lost 30 percent of their bone mass . Today, osteoporosis is the third leading cause of death for women over the age of 70 . Studies indicate that Caucasian and Asian females have a greater risk for osteoporosis, although females from other races are at a high-risk level as well.
Although osteoporosis is thought of as a woman’s disease, men are at risk of developing the condition as well . The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that approximately 2 million men in the United States suffer from osteoporosis and an additional 12 million men are at risk for developing the disease .
Osteoporosis is diagnosed by using screening methods. Current recommendations call for all women 65-years of age and older to undergo regular osteoporosis screenings. For women with increased risks, the recommendation is to begin screening at the age of 60 . The results from the screening tests are compared over a two-year period to determine changes in bone mineral density, although longer intervals may be necessary to properly diagnosis the condition in some patients.