Aging and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is often referred to as the silent disease. This is because osteoporosis can begin at any time and in its early stages produces no symptoms. Often osteoporosis goes unnoticed and untreated until a painful break occurs.

When someone with osteoporosis has a fracture occur it is usually from minimal trauma, or even regular daily activity. In this instance the disease has already progressed and is in the late stages. This is why age is relevant. The older one gets the greater the risk of osteoporosis and accordingly fractures.

Risk Factors

There are several factors that contribute to the risk of osteoporosis including gender, family history, certain diseases and medications, lifestyle choices including diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol use. However age remains constant. As we age our bones naturally lose density, so the older you are, the greater the risk for developing Osteoporosis.

Throughout childhood, adolescence and early adulthood bones are growing and bone density is accumulating and gaining strength. No age is too young to start thinking about osteoporosis and its prevention. Children and adolescence need to be given adequate nutrition, and plenty of opportunity for physical activity. They need to be taught how to make good choices when it comes to diet, exercise and lifestyle.

These years are critical to the development of healthy bones. When peak bone mass is reached, before the age of thirty, that is the most dense the bones can ever be. If the bones are strong and healthy then the natural loss that occurs with age will not have a devastating outcome.

Bone Remodeling

Through a process called remodeling bones are constantly being removed and replaced with new bone. Normally in the adult skeleton about three percent of the cortical, the outer hard part and twenty five percent of the trabecular bone, the inner spongy part is remodeled each year. Aging naturally slows this process as well as causing most everyone to experience some bone loss.

Due to a number of factors, some as yet unknown this process is not always exact. Sometimes too much bone is removed, not enough is replaced or even a combination of both. As bone is lost, the skeleton becomes progressively more and more osteoporotic and prone to bone fracture. This is when osteoporosis happens and fractures occur. While it is important to start early in the prevention of osteoporosis, when the bones are still forming it is never too late.

In old age as bone loss progresses, it is of equal importance to practice good measures to help keep the bones as strong and healthy as possible. While replacing all bone that has been lost is not probable, it is feasible that the progression and the rate of loss can be slowed by taking preventative methods to prevent osteoporosis, and if already diagnosed with osteoporosis then treating it to help slow the progression and lessen the damage that may result.

Like This Article? Sciencebeta has a free 3 times weekly digest of the most interesting and intriguing articles in psychology, neuroscience, neurology, and cognitive sciences. Want to give it a try? Subscribe right here