Osteoporosis: causes and characteristics

Osteoporosis (bone loss) is among the ten most common chronic diseases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In Germany, almost eight million people are affected, most of them women. Osteoporosis is a typical age disease of the bones - which can sometimes have fatal consequences: These consequences include broken bones, surgery, prolonged bed rest and care.

Construction and removal of bone mass

The bone mass in the body is constantly being built up and broken down: where the skeleton is subjected to increased stress, more bone substance is built in, where the load is low, it is broken down. Responsible for this are the so-called osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Normally, build-up and dismantling processes in the body balance each other. However, if this balance is disturbed, it can lead to a greater reduction in bone mass - hence the popular name bone loss. The result is unstable and especially brittle bones.

Bone loss: causes and risk factors

Especially women are affected: About one third of them develop osteoporosis after menopause, but more and more often with increasing age. Reason is primarily the easing or the failure of the production of the "female" hormone estrogen during menopause about 50 years of age. Most women lose valuable bone when sex hormone levels fall. This is because the estrogens control the absorption of calcium into the bones and this is the most essential bone component.

But actually, the age-related bone loss begins - very slowly and unnoticed - much earlier, namely from the mid 30th Very slender women can even at a young age suffer from osteoporosis. Furthermore, especially women are more often affected by bone loss, who have no children and came early to menopause. Here are the most important causes at a glance

  • Estrogen deficiency during menopause
  • Early menopause
  • Higher age
  • Low-calcium diet
  • hormonal disorders
  • kidney disease
  • bowel disease
  • Medicines, eg. Cortisone
  • bone disease
  • Nicotine, alcohol, coffee
  • lack of exercise
  • Hereditary predisposition

Osteoporosis: features and history

Usually, the bone-degrading and bone-building cells are in balance. But in the case of an osteoporosis disease, this perfectly coordinated interaction is disturbed - the degradation predominates. As a result, the bones are no longer so strong, they are becoming increasingly porous, and the risk of a bone fracture increases dramatically. It is fatal that these changes often do not cause discomfort for a long time and are discovered late and as a result of the complications. Vertebral deformities and vertebral fractures cause back pain. In the further course of the body size decreases, and it can form a hunchback ("widow's hump").

Osteoporosis prevents long-term, especially older, femoral neck fractures, which are often associated with complications and permanent pain. As the process progresses, even the slightest strain on a bone fracture is sufficient, such as a slight tripping, coughing, turning in bed and even lifting a cup! The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the number of femoral neck fractures will double worldwide in the next 20 years.

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