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Osteoporosis in the United States

Essay by   •  June 7, 2011  •  Case Study  •  2,250 Words (9 Pages)  •  2,055 Views

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Within the United States, it is estimated that 34 million people have low bone densities putting them at high risk for osteoporosis (3). Moreover, an estimate of 10 million people in the United Stated already have a bone disease, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. In this paper I am going to talk about the specifics of one of the most common bone diseases we face in America, Osteoporosis (3).

Osteoporosis, also known as "brittle bone disease," is a condition which results in the bones becoming less dense and weakened, thus causing an increased risk for obtaining a broken bone (4). Bones are classified as a type of tissue in our body. Like all tissues, they consist of living cells which are constantly changing (1). New bone cells are continuously being produced while old bone cells are continuously dying and being replaced. In fact, within a decade, our whole entire skeleton has been replaced with new bone cells. When individuals reach early adulthood (usually in the 20s), peak bone mass is reached. Peak bone mass is the point in which maximum amount of bone mass is achieved, although some additional bone mass can be added in an individual's 30s. After peak bone mass is achieved, however, bone mass loss begins to slowly exceed the rate at which new bone is added. Osteoporosis specifically occurs when the rate of bone loss exceeds the rate of bone production causing the bones to become porous (1).

Broken bones are often the long-term consequence of osteoporosis (4). There are a myriad of treatment options available in order to help prevent sustaining a fracture. Some of the most commonly broken bones in the body include wrists, spine compressions, shoulders, pelvis, hips, tibial plateaus, and ankles. Even though the long-term consequence of osteoporosis is breaking such bones, there are long term consequences of recovering from such injuries when battling osteoporosis. Recovery can be a lot lengthier in comparison to a person with normal bone density and the chance of reinjuring the same break-site is significantly higher (4).

Osteoporosis can cause the simple things in life to become difficult such as walking, shopping, showering, dressing, and even brushing one's teeth. Hip fractures can be the most devastating injury of them all causing immobility (1). As a result, immobility directly influences an individual's quality of life and can result in helplessness and even depression. As a matter of fact, 66% of all hip fractures due to osteoporosis never recover completely and 20% will die within a year due to health complications from the injury (1).

There are several factors that increase the risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures (1). Some of these factors can be controlled and even prevented while not others. To begin, females are at a higher risk of osteoporosis than males, although males too can experience the disease. Females have smaller bone densities and they experience menopause which causes bone loss to drastically increase in rate because of the decrease in estrogen. Caucasian and Asian women are especially of higher risk than other women because they typically have lower bone masses. Moreover, being over the age of 30 increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures because this is the age in which bone loss starts to exceed bone production. Small-boned and petite women are also at increased risk because they have less bone-protecting estrogen. Likewise, body weight puts more weight-bearing and stress on bones helping them to stay healthy but is lacked in smaller boned and petite females. Family history of fractures can help an individual become more aware of if they are at risk for osteoporosis and such histories should not be ignored. Sex hormones also have a big impact on increasing the risk for osteoporosis. Amenorrhea in women can cause hormonal imbalances specifically if the individual is at a low body mass index. Because sex hormones are protective against bone loss, men of low levels of sex hormones or even menopause women are both at higher risks as well. Medications can also influence one's risk for osteoporosis too. Specifically, the long-term use of gluccorticoids, antiseizure medicines, certain antacids, certain cancer treatments, or too much thyroid hormone-replacing medications can lead to bone loss. One should never stop taking such medications but instead consult their physicians about the issues pertaining to bone health. Although these are factors in which an individual cannot control, below are some factors in which one can (1).

To begin, one can reduce the risk of osteoporosis by opting to not smoke (1). It is scientifically proven that smokers absorb less calcium. Women smokers have lower levels of estrogen and can even begin menopause at an earlier age causing them to become at even more risk for osteoporosis. Also, spending at minimum of 30 minutes daily engaging in physical activity can contribute to high peak bone mass in a person's early years and help to prevent bone loss at a later age. By working against gravity, weight-bearings and stress can cause bones to become stronger and help to maintain fit muscles, balance, and coordination which can prevent falls and reduce injuries. Heavy alcohol consumption can also reduce bone mass. Bone production is inhibited and this can prevent vitamin D from being activated which increases the loss of calcium. Besides, too many alcoholic beverages definitely increase the risk for falling and stumbling. Vitamin D is crucial for your body to absorb calcium. Because calcium is needed to build and maintain bone mass, both are vital in one's diet in order to reduce the risk for osteoporosis (1).

Specifically, calcium and phosphorus couple to form hydroxyapatite, which is the underlying foundation for strength and structure in our bones and teeth enamel (1). Calcium is so important for our bones that it even makes up 40% of the weight of our bones (1). Adults need anywhere between 1,000 - 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day, depending on age and sex (3). On the contrary, Americans 20 years of age and older are consuming, on average, less than 800 milligrams of calcium a day (1). Food sources for calcium can include milk, yogurt, and cheese for the major sources. Each serving in the dairy group tends to contain approximately 300 milligrams of calcium. Thus, a little more than 3 servings of calcium a day can satisfy the average person's daily need for calcium. Other sources can include broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, and tofu that is processed with calcium. Some juices and cereals are fortified with calcium and are also excellent sources (1).

You want to be careful to not intake too much calcium resulting in hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood) (1). This



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