Dr Ajith Medical Director,
Clinical and Imaging Services,
Anand Diagnostic Laboratory
Bone is a rigid connective tissue that provides a structural framework for the attachment of muscles, protects vital organs and tissues. It also stores crucial nutrients, minerals, lipids and produces blood cells that nourish the body and plays a vital role in protecting the body against infection.
Bones are continuously changing — new bone is made and old bone is broken down. In the young, the body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone and the bone mass increases.
Most people reach their peak bone mass around the age of 30. While it’s important to build strong and healthy bones during childhood and adolescence, steps should be taken during adulthood to protect bone health.
Factors that affect bone health are:
Diet low in calcium contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.
People who are physically inactive have a higher risk of osteoporosis than do their more-active counterparts.
Asians have the greatest risk of osteoporosis. In addition, having a parent or sibling who has osteoporosis greatly increases risk — especially if there is a family history of fractures.
Long-term use of corticosteroids such as prednisone, cortisone, and dexamethasone, are damaging to the bone. Other drugs that might increase the risk of osteoporosis include anticancer drugs, some anti-seizure medications, such as phenytoin and phenobarbital, and proton pump inhibitors.
Diseases & conditions affecting bone health:
- Low bone density and osteoporosis, which make your bones weak and more likely to break.
- Autoimmune disorders: Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus
- Hormonal disorders: Diabetes, Thyroid disorders, Cushing’s syndrome.
- Malignancies: Leukemia, Lymphoma, Multiple myeloma.
- Other diseases: Polio, Stroke.
Bone Mineral Density:
A bone mineral density (BMD) test is the best way to measure your bone health. It compares your bone density, or mass, to that of a healthy person who is the same age and sex as you are. It can show
- Whether you have osteoporosis, a disease that makes your bones weak
- Your risk of having fractures/ breaking bones.
Low bone mass that is not low enough to be osteoporosis is sometimes called osteopenia. Causes of low bone mass include family history, not developing good bone mass when you are young and certain conditions or medicines
Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens the bones. Your bones become fragile and break easily, especially the bones in the hip, spine, and wrist.
Risk factors include
- Getting older
- Being small and thin
- Having a family history of osteoporosis
- Taking certain medicines
- Having low bone density
Osteoporosis is a silent disease. You might not know you have it until you break a bone. A bone mineral density test is the best way to check your bone health.
Autoimmune diseases cause body’s immune system to mistakenly attack normal cells. In autoimmune arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the immune system attacks the lining of joints.
Symptoms vary greatly from person to person, as does the rate of progression. While there’s no cure for this long-term condition, a variety of treatments can help improve your quality of life.
Risk factors include:
- Gender: Women develop RA at a higher rate than men.
- Age: RA can develop at any age, but most people begin to notice symptoms between the ages of 49 and 60 years.
- Family history: You’re at increased risk of having RA if other family members have it.
- Smoking: Cigarette smoking can increase the chances of developing RA. Quitting can lower your risk.
To keep bones strong, eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, exercise, and do not smoke. If needed, medicines can also help. It is also important to try to avoid falling down. Falls are the number one cause of fractures in older adults.