Osteoporosis: what is it and are you at risk? Changi General Hospital answers these questions and more.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis literally means ‘bones with holes’. It is a bone disease that occurs when bones lose minerals such as calcium more quickly than the body can replace them. The bones become less dense, lose strength and break more easily.
Most people do not realise they have osteoporosis until a fracture happens, as there are usually no signs or symptoms. This is why osteoporosis is often called the ‘silent disease’.
Osteoporosis particularly affects women in their middle and later years, although
some men are also affected. Women are four times more likely to suffer from osteoporosis than men. Half of women over the age of 50 will experience a fracture to their hip, wrist, spine, or other bone due to osteoporosis.
Are you at risk of developing osteoporosis?
Some factors that may predispose an individual to osteoporosis include:
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Inadequate amounts of dietary calcium
- Low vitamin D levels
- Alcohol intake of more than two standard drinks per day
- Early menopause (before the age of 45)
- Long-term use of medication such as corticosteroids and anti-epileptics
- Medical history, such as thyroid disease or an overactive thyroid gland