Bones are made up of minerals and mainly calcium. Bone Mineral Density of BMD is a way to measure the number of minerals present in the bones. Osteopenia refers to a condition in which BMD is lower than the normal. It cannot be considered a disease, but it increases the chances of developing osteoporosis in the long run. In a lay man’s language, it is a midpoint of healthy bones and osteoporosis.
Causes of Osteoporosis
Bone density is the highest in the 30s. The exact age at which one gets affected by osteopenia depends on how hard the bones are in the younger days. The average age is around 50 years, in case it occurs. What causes osteopenia? When the body breaks down the old bone faster than the new ones being built, bone density s lost. Some medical issues can lead to this state of reduced bone density like:
- Overactive thyroid gland or hyperthyroidism
- Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia
- Celiac disease- Intake of gluten can damage the small intestine which can lead to less absorption of nutrients
- Chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Chronic inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis
Risk Factors Involved with Osteopenia
Like every other health condition, osteopenia also has some risk factors which can make one more susceptible to it:
- A family history of close relatives having low BMD
- Surgical removal of ovaries before menopause
- Excessive caffeine
- Menopause before 45 years
- In the age group older than 50 years
- Steroid medications like hydrocortisone
- Lack of vitamin D in the body
- Excessive smoking and alcohol’ carbonated drinks
- Inadequate exercise routine; no strength training
Diagnosis Of Osteopenia
Diagnosis of osteopenia is difficult as they usually don’t have any typical symptoms. It does not cause any pain unless a bone is broken. Back pain, recurrent spinal fractures, loss in height due to stooped posture can also be seen. A bone mineral density test using an X-ray needs to be done to confidently diagnose it.
Prevention of Osteoporosis
One can start taking early steps to prevent it with the few changes in the lifestyle like diet and exercise regime. Dietary intake of dairy products, Vitamin D, should be adequate. Spending a few minutes in the early morning sunlight can be a good idea to increase Vitamin D levels which in turn help in better absorption of calcium in the bones.
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