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Sleep Apnea Patients Are at High Risk for Osteoporosis

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Osteoporosis is a lifetime condition which can bring about debilitation and death especially among the elderly. This is a medical condition wherein the bones become weak and thin and are easily fractured. This condition commonly affects the bones of the hip, the spine and the wrist. If left untreated, this can further progress even without pain and may cause a bone to break, such as the hip bone, the spine or the wrist. Hip fractures often require major surgery and hospitalization and may even lead to serious disabilities and even death. Loss of height, severe back and pain and other deformities can also develop.

Osteoporosis often develops gradually over many years or months. It may have initial signs and symptoms such as joint pains, difficulty on standing up and difficulty in sitting up straight. As the person loses bone mass and bone density, he or she continues to at risk for fractures of the spine, the wrist or the hip. Even small movement such as a cough or a sneeze can cause partial collapse of these bones. Elderly people suffer the most because their bodies cannot repair bones properly. These unrepaired bones are more likely to trigger arthritis and may leave the person seriously disabled. These people, particularly the elderly, are not able to live independently afterwards.

Broken bones resulting from osteoporosis may also become more painful. It is said that one of the most common causes of chronic pain in osteoporosis is a spinal fracture. Not people are prone to osteoporosis; most people who do so have risk factors. These risk factors include sex, age, vertigo, HIV infection, gastric cancer, ethnicity, family history, people with small frames, smoking, estrogen exposure, anorexia or bulimia, cardiovascular diseases and Alzheimer's disease. Other risk factors include, intake of certain medications, breast cancer, low calcium consumption, gastrectomy, Crohn's disease, celiac disease, vitamin D deficiency, Cushing's disease, long term lack of physical activity, too much caffeine consumption, alcoholism, and depression.

Women are prone to develop osteoporosis because they often start out with a lower bone life than men, they live longer than men, and they experience low estrogen levels during menopause. As a person ages every year, his or her bone mass lowers until he or she dies. There is a certain link between vertigo and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is also common among those who are Caucasian, or of South Asian descent.

Some medications can also increase the risk for osteoporosis. Examples of these medications include corticosteroids, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), blood thinning medications, methotrexate, drugs for epilepsy, diuretics, aluminium containing antacids, thyroid hormone, and other drugs.

Osteoporosis is often diagnosed by laboratory tests such as Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scan, dental x-rays, ultrasound, CT (computerized tomography) and calcium intake, especially in men. Those who should get tested for osteoporosis include those aged 65 or older, are postmenopausal and have one or more risk factors for osteoporosis, are taking medications which can increase the risk for osteoporosis, have Type 1 diabetes, have liver disease, have kidney disease, have thyroid disease, have family history of osteoporosis, and have experienced early menopause.

Sleep Apnea and Osteoporosis

A recent study has shown that women and older individuals who have obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to have weakening of bones or osteoporosis. This study was published recently in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). The researchers think that sleep disruptions encountered in sleep apnea may harm bodily systems such as the skeletal system. A lack of oxygen, as what is triggered by obstructive sleep apnea, can weaken bones and can give rise to osteoporosis.

The study used records from Taiwan’s single-payer National Health Insurance program to track treatment of 1,377 people who were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea between 2000 and 2008. These data were compared to that of 20,655 people comparable in age and gender who did not have the sleep disorder. The researchers found out that the incidence of osteoporosis was 2.7 times higher among patients with sleep apnea than their counterparts.

To read more about sleep apnea and osteoporosis, feel free to read our other articles on this site.