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What is Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the bones — reducing their mass and making them weaker, prone to fracture. Healthy bones are those with a high bone mass or density. These fractures commonly affect the hip, wrist and spine.

Q. Can anybody suffer from Osteoporosis?
A. Yes. Smoking, heavy drinking, immobility, lack of sunshine, low calcium intake and long term use of high dose corticosteroids can all contribute to osteoporosis.

In women, early menopause can increase the risk (menopause before 45 years old) or a hysterectomy (before the natural menopause, at around 50 years old) or irregular / infrequent periods in your life.

Q. Is there a cure?
A. No. However, women can consult their GP’s about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and various lifestyle changes may help limit bone loss. For example, regular exercise, a calcium rich diet and not smoking are important for bone health throughout life. Whatever your age, it is never too late to try to do something to help.

Q. How do I know if I have got osteoporosis?
A. It is not often obvious if you are suffering from osteoporosis. A family history may indicate a risk but often many people only become aware of their problem when they suffer a fracture following a minor bump or fall, suffer from loss of height or suffer from bony discomfort (often in the spine — although many causes of back pain are unrelated to osteoporosis).The only way to know conclusively if you have osteoporosis is to have your bone density measured. X-rays cannot measure bone density and mass and so cannot detect osteoporosis.

If you are concerned, then you should consult your GP, who will refer you for bone density tests.

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