Silent Epidemic

Health Tips

So doctors call osteoporosis – a disease little known, but very common. But many do not even realize that they are already seriously ill, naively believing that their hunched back is nothing but the result of stoop or advanced age.

Osteoporosis is a systemic skeletal disease in which bone density is reduced, leading to an increased risk of fractures. This is not only a hunched back due to vertebral fractures, but also other bone fractures, including fractures of the femoral neck (the most terrible consequence of osteoporosis), which take 15 to 20 percent of people’s lives. And not all patients after a hip fracture return to a normal lifestyle.

Pronounced clinical manifestations of osteoporosis occur rather late, and at the initial stages, no one simply pays serious attention to changes in posture, pain in the back, in the bones, and the spine – it will hurt and stop. But in vain. Because for quite a long time, completely imperceptibly, a decrease in bone mass gradually occurs. And then “suddenly” something breaks. According to the nature of the course, osteoporosis can only be compared with hypertension. The latter can also have a rather mild course. A person does not always feel the increased numbers of his pressure and, accordingly, does not receive any treatment in a timely manner. And at one “wonderful” moment, he suddenly develops such a formidable complication as myocardial infarction.

All over the world, the problem of osteoporosis began to be dealt with closely only in the last twenty years. As for our country, it is some 10-15 years. Unfortunately, there is practically no statistics that would most fully inform about the breadth of the spread of this disease in our country. There are certain difficulties in this. Therefore, in many respects we use the statistics of Western countries, the United States, assuming that, by analogy, the same thing happens with us. And here’s what she shows. For example, in the United States, 10 percent of the population suffers from this disease. This is a terrible statistic.

According to its medical and social significance, the problem of osteoporosis ranks fifth after cardiovascular, oncological, pulmonary diseases and diabetes mellitus. In addition, according to some forecasts of experts, the frequency of fractures over the next thirty years should increase dramatically by 60 percent. What are the reasons for such a rapid development of osteoporosis among the population?

This, paradoxically, is both an increase in life expectancy and existence in more comfortable urban conditions. After all, people in the most urbanized society suffer from osteoporosis to a greater extent. A significant role is played by the change, far from for the better, of the environmental situation as a whole. The diet has also changed for the worse.

You can not discount the genetic predisposition: it is also of great importance. Scientists have already discovered a gene responsible for the development of osteoporosis. The human constitution also plays an important role. Women of slight, slim build, white, blond, or redheads may also be more likely to suffer from osteoporosis than others.

What are the causes of osteoporosis? The bone mass of a person has been increasing since the moment of its inception. And its peak is reached in 20-25 years. Then it stays at the same level until about 45 years old, after which the physiological, that is, the normal decrease in bone mass, begins. Therefore, it is very important precisely during the period when the bone is just being laid, to pay attention to good nutrition containing a sufficient amount of calcium. We used to think that only dairy products are rich in calcium, but this is not entirely true. Not so little calcium is found in vegetables – such as lettuce, cabbage, celery, green beans, leeks. From fruits, dried apricots, raisins, dried apples, oranges are rich in calcium. As well as almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds. The largest amount of calcium is found in fish.

If a person from his youth “lies on the stove”, then in the future he will be completely guaranteed osteoporosis. After all, the state of bone mass directly depends on muscle activity. Therefore, physical activity plays a very important role in the development of this disease.

Unfortunately, this simply cannot be ignored, osteoporosis is noticeably younger today. And if earlier we said that osteoporosis is a disease of the elderly, then at the moment we observe this disease not only in adolescence, but also in children. Of course, these are rare cases, but they are already registered. And this is very worrying for doctors.

Other factors are added later. These are, first of all, bad habits: abuse of alcohol, nicotine and … coffee. As well as the acquisition of various concomitant diseases, which also does not have the best effect on the condition of the bones and leads to osteoporosis. First of all, this applies to diseases of the endocrine system, gastrointestinal tract, blood; to patients with renal insufficiency and diabetes mellitus.

Here, by the way, it is necessary to distinguish between different types of osteoporosis. There is osteoporosis, which is directly related to concomitant diseases, and then it can develop at absolutely any age. And sometimes osteoporosis is idiopathic, that is, by itself, when there seem to be no concomitant diseases, and there are not so many risk factors, and yet the problem of osteoporosis worries. In this case, heredity probably plays the greatest role in its development.

It is believed that women suffer from osteoporosis much more often. Changes associated with the hormonal background literally fall on a woman when she has menopause or menopause – this is the period of life after the cessation of menstruation. This usually occurs at the age of 45-50 years. Sometimes such fluctuations due to any reasons in the body of a woman are observed at an earlier age.

With the onset of menopause, the production of sex hormones sharply decreases. In turn, the lack of estrogen does not have the best effect on bone density, resulting in osteoporosis, which rapidly leads to fractures and painful treatment in a hospital bed.

Pregnancy and childbirth are also quite a serious test of the female body for strength. The body’s need for calcium is especially high in pregnant women and nursing mothers. During this period, more calcium is excreted from the body with mother’s milk than is supplied with food. The negative balance of calcium is covered by its intake from the skeleton.

What to do in this case? Like any other cells in our body, bone mass is constantly renewed: some of its cells age and disappear, and new ones appear to replace them. So, the destruction phase is 14 days, and the phase of new tissue formation is 90 days. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that there is no loss of bone mass, since it is quite difficult to renew it.

Svetlana SHUKLINA

Consultant – Irina Romazanovich, endocrinologist, candidate of medical sciences, member of the Russian Association for Osteoporosis.

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