What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps.

Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Viewed under a microscope, healthy bone looks like a honeycomb. When osteoporosis occurs, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb are much larger than in healthy bone. Osteoporotic bones have lost density or mass and contain abnormal tissue structure. As bones become less dense, they weaken and are more likely to break. If you’re 50 or older and have broken a bone, ask your doctor or healthcare provider about a bone density test.

What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?

There typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. But once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you may have signs and symptoms that include:

  • Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra.
  • Loss of height over time.
  • A stooped posture.
  • A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected.

What are the causes of osteoporosis?

Losing bone is a normal part of the ageing process, but some people lose bone density much faster than normal. This can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures.

Women also lose bone rapidly in the first few years after the menopause. Women are more at risk of osteoporosis than men, particularly if the menopause begins early (before the age of 45).
Many other factors can also increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, including:

  • Long-term use of high-dose oral corticosteroids.
  • Other medical conditions – such as inflammatory conditions, hormone-related conditions, or mal absorption problems.
  • A family history of osteoporosis – particularly history of a hip fracture in a parent.
  • Long-term use of certain medications which can affect bone strength or hormone levels.
  • Having a low body mass index (BMI).
  • Smoking.

How is osteoporosis diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects you have osteoporosis, they can make an assessment using:

DEXA scan: They may also refer you for a DEXA (DXA) scan to measure your bone mineral density. It's a short, painless procedure that takes about five minutes, depending on the part of the body being scanned. Your bone mineral density can be compared to the bone mineral density of a healthy young adult and someone who's the same age and sex as you. The difference is calculated as a standard deviation (SD) and is called a T score.
Osteopenia: You may be diagnosed with osteopenia if bone density tests show you have decreased bone density, but not enough to be classed as osteoporosis.

How can I treat osteoporosis?

Treatment for osteoporosis is based on treating and preventing fractures, and using medication to strengthen bones.

The decision about whether you need treatment depends on your risk of fracture. This will be based on a number of factors such as your age, sex and the results of your DEXA scan.
If you need treatment, your doctor can suggest the safest and most effective treatment plan for you.

How to prevent osteoporosis?

If you're at risk of developing osteoporosis, you should take steps to help keep your bones healthy. This may include:

  • Taking regular exercise.
  • Healthy eating – including foods rich in calcium and vitamin D.
  • Taking a vitamin D supplement (under medical prescription).
  • Changing lifestyle such as giving up smoking.

Living with osteoporosis

There are measures you can take to reduce your risk of a fall or break.

A.    Preventing falls

    • Making some simple changes at home can help reduce the risk of fracturing or breaking a bone in a fall.
    • Check your home for hazards you may trip over, such as trailing wires.
    • Make sure rugs and carpets are secure, and keep rubber mats by the sink and in the bath to prevent slipping.
    • Maintain adequate lightening: do not forget to switch your night light on before sleeping.
    • Keep your personnel items within reach.
    • Avoid storing frequently used items on high shelves.
    • Have regular sight tests and hearing tests.
    • Some older people may need to wear special protectors over their hips to cushion a fall.
    • Your GP can offer help and advice about changes to your lifestyle.

B.    Healthy eating and exercise

    • Regular exercise and a healthy diet are important for everyone, not just people with osteoporosis. They can help prevent many serious conditions, including heart disease and many forms of cancer.
    • You should ensure you have a balanced diet that contains all the food groups to give your body the nutrition it needs.
    • Exercising regularly can increase bone strength, relieve stress and reduce fatigue.

Does my Insurance Policy cover Osteoporoses treatment?

Yes. According to CCHI unified Policy terms and conditions, health insurance policies in Saudi Arabia cover the treatment of osteoporoses, except the one related to menopause.

Please Click Here to access the Unified CCHI Policy Wordings.


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