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What is Osteopenia?

By on July 2, 2012 in Diseases with 0 Comments

 

What is osteopenia?

As you age, the inside of the bones becomes porous from a loss of calcium. This is called losing bone mass. Total bone mass tends to peak approximately at age 35. Osteopenia refers to bone mass that is less than its peak bone mass, but not yet low enough to be considered osteoporosis. Osteopenia is not a disease, but if you meet the criteria of osteopenia, have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

What are the symptoms of osteopenia?

Generally, osteopenia causes no symptoms. Bone loss is not painful. There may be cracks or broken bones, but these problems usually happen after you have developed osteoporosis.

What is the cause of osteopenia?

Bones are constantly changing. The new bone grows as old bone is broken down and reabsorbed by the body. When young, developing new bone is faster than it takes the body to break down old bone. This increases your bone mass. Once total bone mass has peaked, you start to lose it because the body breaks down old bone more quickly than you take to build new bone. If you lose enough bone, bones can become weak.

What are the risk factors for osteopenia?
The following factors put you at greater risk for osteopenia. The more of these factors apply to you, the greater your risk. Talk to your family doctor about the risk factors.

  • Aging.
  • Early menopause (before age 45 years).
  • Surgery to remove ovaries before menopause.
  • Sedentary lifestyle (lack of exercise).
  • Smoking or consumption of snuff.
  • Alcohol abuse.
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
  • Hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid both as taking too many drugs to treat hypothyroidism.

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