FAQs about osteoporosis

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone condition that makes bones weak and more likely to fracture. Although any bone is prone to fracture, the most common fractures involve the bones of the spine, hip and wrist.1

Who is at risk of developing osteoporosis?

Although anyone can develop osteoporosis, there are several factors that may put you at an increased risk of developing the condition. Women are more likely than men to have osteoporosis and your risk also increases as you age. Other factors include your family history and body frame size; having a parent or sibling with the condition makes you more likely to develop it yourself and people with small body frames are also more at risk ‐ they have less bone mass to draw from as they age. Osteoporosis can also develop as a result of low calcium intake, hormonal conditions such as menopause, a sedentary lifestyle as well as alcohol and tobacco use.2

What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is referred to as a silent disease, as the process of bone loss is gradual and painless. As we age, bone formation slows down and bone loss increases. Our bones lose calcium, phosphorous, boron and other minerals and become lighter, less dense and more porous. This can progress to osteoporosis, with a broken bone often being the first obvious sign of the disease.1

How will I know if I have it?

Fortunately there are tests you can undergo to diagnose whether you have osteoporosis, before you suffer from a fracture. If you’re at risk of developing the disease, your doctor may refer you for a bone density test. This usually involves the use of X‐rays or similar test to determine the density of your spine, hip or total body bone density. Bone density shows whether or not you have osteoporosis and whether any prevention or treatment is needed.3

How can I prevent osteoporosis?

Certain risk factors for osteoporosis are unchangeable, such as your family history, frame size, sex and age. However, certain lifestyle factors also play a role in its development. Make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D through a healthy diet and sun exposure, or consider using supplements. Exercise is also beneficial in building bone strength, particularly weight bearing exercise. Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake are also helpful, as both these habits negatively impact bone health.4

Always read the label. Use only as directed. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet.