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What Is Osteoporosis?

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Osteoporosis is an age-related disease in which bone mineral density decreases, leading to brittle bones being more prone to breaking. The most common risk factor for osteoporosis is aging. Genetic factors also play a role, with men who have a father or brother with the disease being twice as likely to develop osteoporosis than those without this family history. A Boca Raton osteoporosis specialist can diagnose and treat the condition.

Causes

As you age, your bones start to decrease both in density and thickness (this process begins at around age 30). Areas with high bone turnover (such as the pelvis, spine, ribs, and hips) will weaken first. Men tend to lose bone at a slower rate than women; however, after menopause, many women experience accelerated bone loss due to a lack of estrogen.

The following factors can contribute to developing osteoporosis:

  • A family history of the disease.
  • Race and ethnicity (white and Asian women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than black and Hispanic women).
  • Being female (women have a 30% greater chance of developing osteoporosis than men, as mentioned above).
  • Undergoing hormone replacement therapy (men and women should talk to their doctors about the risks associated with HRT).
  • Having a history of smoking cigarettes.
  • Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.
  • A sedentary lifestyle (low levels of exercise and activity will increase your risk for developing osteoporosis).

Symptoms

The symptoms of osteoporosis vary and often mimic other conditions. Osteoporosis may go unnoticed for years because the symptoms are painless and result in no more than a slow-healing bone fracture or a loss of height due to compression of vertebrae (a condition also known as “dowager’s hump”).

There are a few signs and symptoms that you can look out for to determine if you might have osteoporosis. If you experience one or more of the following, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible:

  • Unexplained loss of height (in a short period).
  • Back pain from compression fractures in the spine.
  • Fractures in the hip, wrist, or spine (especially after minimal force or impact).
  • A hunched back (in older individuals) due to compression fractures of the vertebrae.
  • Symptoms of a broken bone that takes a long time to heal.

Treatment

Depending on the severity of your osteoporosis, treatment will vary. The earlier you seek treatment, the better off you will be (hip fracture, in particular, can lead to impaired mobility, and immobility may result in further bone loss). Also, certain medications may improve bone health.

While there is no cure for osteoporosis, the following treatment options may help. Bisphosphonate bone-building drugs will slow down further bone loss and decrease your chances of developing osteoporotic fractures. You may need to take these medications for several years.

Calcitonin nasal spray or injection (for people who cannot take oral bisphosphonates)

Calcitonin (a hormone that speeds up the laying down of new bone and reduces bone breakdown) is given through a nasal spray or an injection. Calcitonin may not be as effective as other medications, but it can reduce the risk of vertebral fractures.

Estrogen replacement therapy for women after menopause (when estrogen levels drop)

In summary, osteoporosis is an age-related disease where bone mineral density decreases, leading to brittle bones that break easily. It mainly happens in men with a family history of the disease and women after menopause. Symptoms include unexplained weight loss, compression fractures in the spine, and a hunched back. Treatments vary depending on severity.

Michelle has been a part of the journey ever since Bigtime Daily started. As a strong learner and passionate writer, she contributes her editing skills for the news agency. She also jots down intellectual pieces from categories such as science and health.

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Health

Limited Options for COVID-19 Vaccine Injury Victims

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Rolling out vaccines and booster shots across the U.S. marked crucial milestones in terms of healthcare and fighting the spread of COVID-19. However, an essential element is still missing: legal recourse for those who experience serious adverse side effects.

Current COVID-19 Vaccine Injury Claims

Currently, there are more than 1,300 pending injury claims related to side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. They are waiting to be heard by the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a government tribunal that handles public health emergencies.

To date, this tribunal has only handled two such cases. One alleged the plaintiff suffered from severe tongue and throat swelling following the vaccine, while the other alleged long-term shoulder pain. Plaintiffs lost both cases and were denied compensation.

Given the comparatively new nature of the COVID-19 vaccine, it is challenging for plaintiffs to prove that their injuries directly resulted from the vaccine. Combined with the lack of research on long-term side effects, it is unlikely that plaintiffs will be able to meet this burden of proof anytime in the near future.

How COVID-19 Vaccine Injury Claims Are Handled

Of interest is that claims related to the COVID-19 vaccine are being heard by the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) instead of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a no-fault government tribunal; known colloquially as “vaccine court.”

Formed in the late 1980s, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program responded to diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT) vaccine claims. Pharmaceutical companies were listed as defendants in lawsuits related to vaccine side effects. However, the government created a separate entity to handle such cases when manufacturers threatened to stop producing vaccines altogether.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clarified that the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program could not hear cases until the COVID-19 vaccine has been recommended for routine administration to children, per a 1986 vaccine law. Additionally, the COVID-19 vaccine would have to be subject to the same 75-cent tax imposed on other vaccines.

Compensation From the CICP

There are several differences between the two tribunals, which plaintiffs claim make the CICP inappropriate for COVID-19 vaccine injury litigation. Of these, compensation is one of the biggest causes for concern.

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has awarded injured plaintiffs more than $4 billion since its inception. In comparison, the CICP has only awarded compensation for 29 of 455 cases— that means that 92 percent of plaintiffs are deemed ineligible or denied compensation. Compensation ranged from $31 to nearly $2.3 million, with a median award of roughly $5,600.

This is partly because compensation options from the CICP are much more limited. Plaintiffs can only claim lost wages and out-of-pocket medical expenses up to $50,000 per year or death benefits up to $370,376 in the case of a vaccine-related fatality.

Differences Between Vaccine Injury Compensation Programs

Below are other key differences between the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program:

  • Plaintiffs do not have the opportunity to testify in court
  • There is no independent judge or jury present
  • Pain and suffering-related damages are not covered
  • There is a limited right to appeal one’s case

This means that plaintiffs who file a case related to injuries allegedly caused by the COVID-19 vaccine are offered less compensation, less legal representation, and less recourse through appeals as opposed to plaintiffs who file a case for injuries caused by any other vaccine. Still, if you are experiencing symptoms related to the COVID-19 vaccine, it may be in your best interest to speak with an injury attorney. 

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