Health focus: Osteoporosis

The effects of osteoporosis on the general health of a person

For years, many studies have discovered the extent of effects that osteoporosis causes to the human body. Basically, this is a bone disease, and particularly affects those individuals in old age. According to John Henry (1991), osteoporosis is the most common metabolic disease of. It is not a single etiologic entity but rather is associated with a variety of epidemiological, clinical, and biochemical factors that result in decreased bone mass. The term bone atrophy is sometimes applied to this pathologic process.

Its most common feature is "loss of the normal density of bone and fragility of the bones. Osteoporosis leads to literally abnormally porous bone that is more compressible like a sponge, than dense like a brick (Crandall 2006). Elderly persons mostly suffer from osteoporosis, but sometimes it affects also young adults and juveniles. The bone loss often is prevalent in the vertebral part of the body, and in the neck.

The disease is physically characterized by a loss of height due to the deformity in the person's spine, and back pains caused by fractures in the vertebrae. Years ago, the disease was difficult to diagnose according to Cotran and others (1989) for three reasons; 1) the disease remains asymptomatic until the skeletal fragility is well-advanced; 2) there is no easy way to determine the severity of the bone loss; and 3) it is only one of a group of skeletal disorders characterized by "too little" bone, which are difficult to differentiate from each other. But with the advent of technology and other medical tools, osteoporosis is a little bit more understood. In fact, some advance medications, in addition to preventive measure, have already been provided by scientific research institutes, as well as through some studies.

The most basic measures that would benefit a person with osteoporosis are exercise, quitting cigarette smoking and decreasing or curtailing the intake of alcohol. But the caveat is that it is advised not to do some exercises that may injure already weakened bones due to osteoporosis.

The National Institute of Health Consensus Conference on Osteoporosis has recommended a regular intake of calcium to build strong and healthy bones. This serves as a preventive measure and at the same time a medication for those who already suffer the disease. The recommended calcium intakes are 800 mg/day for children ages 1 to 10, 1000 mg/day for men, pre-menopausal women, 1200 mg/day for teenagers and young adults ages 11 to 24, 1200 mg/day to 1500 mg/day for pregnant and nursing mothers. However, the total daily intake should not exceed 2000 mg.

Furthermore, an intake is of vitamin D is also advised. For a person who already has osteoporosis, it is advised by Crandall (2006) to ensure 400 IU twice per day as usual daily intake, most commonly as a supplement alongside prescription osteoporosis medication. According to studies, Vitamin D is important for maintaining bone density and strength.

In addition to these, some medications which are effective and effective in preventing bone loss and breakdown, and are FDA approved are anti-resorptive drugs such as Bisphospates, Alendronate, Risedronate, Raloxifene, Calcitonin, and Teriparatide. These medications "inhibit bone removal (resorption), thus tipping the balance in favor of bone rebuilding and increasing bone density (Crandall 2006)."



1) Cotran, Ramzi S., M.D., Kumar, Vinay, M.D., Robbins, Stanley L., M.D. 1989. Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease. 4th Edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

2) Crandall, Carolyn Janet, M.D. 2006. Osteoporosis [Internet].; [cited 2007 March 21]. Available from:

3) Henry, John Bernard, M.D. 1991. Clinical Diagnosis & Management, byLaboratory Methods. 18th Edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.