Most people take for granted the ability to sit, stand,

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 10th grade February 2008

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Most people take for granted the ability to sit, stand, walk, and run (although I do not because of my many knee surgeries). We walk, run, lift, and carry heavy of even light objects without much thought of what is taking the burden of these tasks. Our bodies provide us with a large range of mobility, leverage, and strength just to name a few. We would not be able to perform any of these activities required in our everyday lives without the bones and joints of our bodies. Over 1.5 million people suffer from osteoporosis every year in the United States. Currently, approximately twenty eight million Americans are affected by osteoporosis. Frankly speaking, osteoporosis causes the bones to loose some of their mass and density. During the stages of osteoporosis, the bones become more brittle (being easier to break) and porous. With these conditions, the chance of a break or a fracture is greatly increased.

Most often, people are completely unaware of their condition until they suffer a fracture typically occurring from a minor accident of a fall.

        Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which bones are thin and weakened. The first indication of osteoporosis is typically when a bone breaks or is fractured. The skeleton of our body not only provides us with structural support, but also stores calcium and vital vitamins and minerals. Bone tissues in our body are constantly being broken down and reformed again later. This cycle is necessary for growth and repair of minor damage that occurs from everyday wear and tear of our bodies. The breakdown (resorption) of the skeleton is done by cells referred to as osteoclasts, which are formed from blood cells. These cells dig holes into the bone, releasing small amounts of calcium into the bloodstream, which are vital for other functions of the body. Cells called osteoblasts (produced by bone cells) next rebuild the skeleton, first filling the holes with collagen and then laying down crystals of calcium and phosphorus. About ten to thirty percent of the adult skeleton is then rebuilt in this way each year. Osteoporosis is specifically a disease of the skeleton in which the amount of calcium present in the bones slowly decreases to the point where the bones become brittle and prone to fracture. In other words, the bones loose their density and want to break because they are not strong enough to withhold the stress exerted on them daily from all of the normal, functional activities of a human being. Until a person is around the age of 40, the process of breaking down and building up bone by osteoclasts and osteoblasts is a nearly perfect system where one phase helps to lead to another. As a person matures most often these phases do not continue to run in order, this is where osteoporosis typically kicks into gear. The reasons for these happening are not specified yet, although in the near future specified reasons will most likely surface. These out of sequenced events in our bones lead to a point where the breakdown of bones overtakes the build-up of bones that ultimately leads to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is diagnosed when bone density has decreased to the point where fractures happen with little stress, which is often referred to as the fracture threshold.

        Today, there are two specific types of osteoporosis: type I and type II. Type I consists of a very high turnover rate and typically takes place in women between the ages of 50 to 75 where a rapid depletion of calcium from the skeleton is occurring because of the postmenopausal period. It is usually related to fractures of the hip, wrist, or forearm caused by falls or minor accidents. Type II on the other hand, consists of a very low turnover rate. Osteoporosis results when the process of resorption and formation of bones are no longer coordinated and the bone breakdown is now overcoming the bone building. In truth, this occurs in everyone at one point or another unless specifically watched from a younger age. Type II osteoporosis typically affects both men and women and is primarily linked to leg and spinal fractures.

        The harsh reality of this disease is that osteoporosis is something, which is preventable. If osteoporosis does unfortunately occur it is a very treatable disease which few people are aware of. Osteoporosis, as stated before, usually carries no symptoms. Along with this idea is the risk that osteoporosis is misdiagnosed most often as chronic pain occurring in the body with older age. Bone loss occurs as we mature throughout our lives. It is a false assumption that most make thinking osteoporosis only occurs in the elderly. People of any age are susceptible to this disease although it does typically occur in older individuals. If you do not get the adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D required in your diet, you are more vulnerable and at risk to this disease. Other causes, some of which are preventable and some of which are not, also contribute to osteoporosis. Some of these include heredity, low body weight, smoking, and etc. just to name a few.

Osteoporosis is a very treatable disease. We need to prevent bone loss as early as birth by strengthening our bones and increasing our reserve of healthy bone mass in our bodies. You might now be wondering how do I make my bones healthier and stronger. Simple, eat well. Good nutrition helps not only promote growth in bones but also maintains bone strengthen and durability. Calcium and vitamin D are of utmost importance as well. If you feel you are not receiving adequate amounts of these vitamins in your diet, talk to a physician immediately and begin taking small supplements. Another simple prevention to osteoporosis is exercise daily, or at least weekly. Practice weight bearing and resistance exercises, which help in the bone health of your skeletal body. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol as these too, just help to contribute to the possibility of osteoporosis arising. Our bones are like storage units; they store calcium and other minerals in them in order to keep our bodies strong. At the same time, our body can use those vitamins and minerals, which are being stored, and if we do not “earn” (replenish our storage units) we are in for sure trouble with our bones. These deficiencies can even lead to problems with the functioning of the heart, muscles, and even the nervous system. Although the amount of calcium and vitamin D recommended per age differs greatly, it is my belief that you can never have to much, so make sure that the problem never arises by taking ample amounts of both your vitamins and your minerals.

Bone density testing / screening is a new valuable tool linked to helping to prevent osteoporosis. It is a painless diagnostic test that determines your bone mineral density, thus leading to either healthy bones or unhealthy bones. Hormone replacement therapy and selective estrogen receptor modulators are treatments, which can also be prescribed by a doctor to prevent osteoporosis in women who are passing through their post-menopause stage. Men using steroids also need to be aware and especially careful about their continued usage as it tends to cause low testosterone levels which leads to osteoporosis, but it also needs to be noted that there is testosterone replacement therapy available for this condition.

Overall, osteoporosis is a very treatable disease and if monitored and taken care of from “the very get go” of things can be completely avoided. If it is not avoided however, with proper treatment it can become an almost unnoticed, unaffecting disease.