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6 Medical Conditions Linked to Osteoporosis and Bone Loss

Are you at risk for bone loss due to your medical condition?
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3. Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland -- a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck -- becomes overactive and produces too much thyroid hormone.

"Hyperthyroidism increases the number of bone-remodeling cycles you go through," explains Edwards. "And after age 30, every bone-remodeling cycle is inefficient. You lose bone mass rather than building it. So the more cycles you go through, the more bone mass you lose."

Hyperparathyroidism, a similar condition involving related, but different glands, also ups the risk of osteoporosis.

4. Celiac Disease

A number of digestive disorders, such as Crohn's disease, can be causes of osteoporosis. Perhaps the most common such cause, says Edwards, is celiac disease, an allergy to a protein called gluten that is often found in wheat products.

Left untreated, celiac disease can damage the lining of the digestive system and interfere with the digestion of nutrients -- including the calcium and vitamin D that are so important to bone health. So even if you're getting the recommended daily amounts of calcium and vitamin D in your diet, if you have celiac disease, you probably don't have enough of those nutrients in your system, and you likely have low bone density.

5. Asthma

Asthma itself does not increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, but the medications used to treat it do. Approximately 20 million people in the U.S. have asthma, including some 9 million children under the age of 18.

Many people with asthma use corticosteroids -- such as asthma "inhalers" -- to help control their disease. During asthma attacks it is not uncommon to start drugs like prednisone for small periods of time. These are very effective in relieving the shortness of breath and wheezing that are common with asthma or emphysema, but they may also contribute to bone loss and osteoporosis.

"In addition to this, many young people with asthma may have more difficulty participating in some activities, which means they might not get as much weight-bearing exercise as they need to help build bone," says Andrew Bunta, MD, associate professor and vice chair of orthopaedics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

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Osteoporosis Glossary

  • Bone Mineral Density - A measurement of the amount of calcium and minerals in bone tissue.
  • Calcium - A mineral in (and vital to) your bones. If your body lacks calcium, it takes it from bones.
  • DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) - a test used to measure bone mineral density.
  • Osteoporosis - A decrease in bone density, which increase the risk of fractures.
  • Vitamin D - A vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium.
  • View All Terms

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