There are a number of different factors that can put you at a higher risk of developing Osteoporosis. You can control some of these factors, while others you cannot.
One factor that you can't control is gender. Women are more likely to develop the condition because they have smaller bones to begin with, and after menopause hormone changes can speed up the loss of bone mass. Another factor is age; both men and women lose bone mass as they get older. Ethnicity also plays a role. Caucasian and Asian women are at a higher risk due to lower bone density. Family history and genes can also be factors since the condition tends to run in families. And finally, people who have a history of fractures are at a higher risk of recurrence.
While you can’t change any of these osteoporosis risk factors, there are some you can control, such as your diet. A lack of calcium and vitamin D can increase your risk since bones are made from calcium and other minerals. If you don’t get enough through what you eat, take a vitamin supplement. Another factor is physical activity. Long periods of inactivity can actually increase your risk of osteoporosis, so staying fit is important. Walking, hiking and dancing are great examples. Drinking too much alcohol and smoking can also negatively affect bone mass. Smokers absorb less calcium from the food they eat, and women who smoke have lower levels of estrogen. Some diseases also increase your risk for osteoporosis, including Celiac disease, hyperthyroidism and inflammatory bowel disease. Finally, some medications can decrease your bone density, including steroids for asthma and arthritis, anti-seizure drugs, thyroid hormones, heparin to treat blood clotting and some cancer medications.
If any of these risk factors apply to you, get screened. As osteoporosis progresses, symptoms may include severe back pain, shrinking and fractures of the risk, vertebrae, hips or other bones.