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A to Z: Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis (say: oss-tee-oh-puh-RO-sis) is a disease that weakens the bones, causing them to become brittle and easily fractured. It mostly affects older people, and women are much more likely to develop it than men.

More to Know

Bones are made up of spongy living tissue that is constantly breaking down and rebuilding. When bone growth can't keep up with bone loss, osteoporosis occurs.

Bone loss is largely due to age, but also can be a result of hormone problems, poor diet, certain medications, and excessive alcohol or tobacco use. People with osteoporosis may fracture their hips, wrist, or spine. They may also have back pain, poor posture, and a decrease in height.

Treatment for osteoporosis usually includes medications, vitamin D, and calcium supplements to improve bone density. Diet and exercise, especially weight training, can also help strengthen bones. Avoiding hazards that can cause falls is always good practice for someone with osteoporosis.

Keep in Mind

Exercising regularly and eating a calcium-rich diet (milk, cheese, yogurt, green leafy vegetables, fortified orange juice, etc.) is the best way for kids and teens to build healthy, strong bones now to avoid osteoporosis later.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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