Osteoporosis is sometimes referred to as the “silent disease” because it can creep up on you without any warning. But don’t be fooled—while it might not display obvious symptoms, osteoporosis is still a serious disease that you shouldn’t take lightly.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones become extremely fragile due to loss of tissue. It’s most common in people age 50 or older and is more common in females than males (though males can still get it).
Other people at risk include those who have a family history of the disease, a history of smoking or drinking excessive alcohol; being sedentary; or if you’re not eating enough fruits or veggies.
Osteoporosis is pretty common. About 54 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Though it’s “invisible,” there are still some recognizable warning signs that you might have it or are at risk for developing it.
Keep these early warning signs that your bones may be thinning and you might be at risk for osteoporosis in mind:
Easily getting a fracture.
Because it’s a “silent” disease, discovering you have osteoporosis can happen on accident, like if you develop a fracture from a mild accident (think falling on pavement or accidentally hitting something that wouldn’t have necessarily caused a fracture previously). That’s a huge sign of bone loss, and one of the biggest factors you might be developing osteoporosis. The more fractures or broken bones, the more likely you might be to get it.
Progressive height loss of two inches or more can be a sign of a vertebral fracture, which can cause you to become a bit hunched. This can happen gradually before you even notice a difference.
Similar to height loss, as the bones in your spine weaken, this can cause your spine to curve and your posture to become problematic. This might suggest that osteoporosis is the culprit affecting your vertebrae.
Sudden or intense back pain.
While this can be a sign of many other conditions, if you experience sudden sudden back pain along with these other symptoms (and no other potential cause), this could be a sign of a vertebral fracture. This can creep up when you’re doing seemingly normal things, such as typing your shoe or reaching for something overhead.
Women who have an infrequent or irregular menstrual cycle could mean they have low levels of estrogen, which can contribute to bone loss. This can also be a sign of polycystic ovary disease (PCOS), over-exercising, or an eating disorder.
To diagnosis osteoporosis, you’ll need to get a bone mineral density test, which measures the bone density in your hips, spine, and sometimes other parts of your body. While this test will help determine whether you have osteoporosis or not, it can also help you if you already know you have it, as it can monitors how well you’re your medication is working.
If you have any of these warning signs and think you might have osteoporosis or low bone density, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider about a care plan that’s right for you.
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