Osteoporosis: Why Me?
Osteoporosis, also known as “porous bone,” is a disease in which the bones gradually become weak and brittle, which often results in broken bones or fractures.
“The main cause of osteoporosis in the population is lack of estrogen after menopause,” explains Mahnaz Saoudian MD, a rheumatologist at Group Health.
For this reason, osteoporosis primarily impacts women, right around menopause, when estrogen levels drop.
What are Common Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
Bone loss usually occurs without symptoms. Unfortunately, breaking or fracturing a bone is often the first sign of osteoporosis. “You could have very advanced osteoporosis, without having any symptoms,” Dr. Saoudian adds.
If you do have osteoporosis, even a relatively minor trauma, like bending over, lifting, jumping or falling from a standing position could cause a fracture.
Osteoporosis: Are Men in the Clear?
While men are much less prone to developing osteoporosis, “it can very well happen after age 70 – age 65 even,” Dr. Saoudian adds. “This is because of the same risk factors. They’re a smoker, they’re not active or they have some immunological disease.”
Other factors that could put you at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis include:
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Taking certain medications, like a steroid
- Having other conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis
- Having a hyperactive thyroid
- Tobacco and excessive alcohol use (learn why)
- Family history of fractures associated with osteoporosis