Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects more than 22 million Americans, nearly 6 million of whom are children. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become less dense and more likely to fracture.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects more than 22 million Americans, nearly 6 million of whom are children. Asthma is becoming more common, and African Americans are especially at risk. For people with asthma, everyday things can trigger an attack. These triggers include air pollution, allergens, exercise, infections, emotional upset, or certain foods.
Typical asthma symptoms include coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, and sweating. Children with asthma often complain of an itchy upper chest or develop a dry cough. These may be the only signs of an asthma attack.
Asthma itself does not pose a threat to bone health. However, certain medications used to treat asthma and some behaviors triggered by concern over the disease can have a negative impact on the skeleton.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become less dense and more likely to fracture. Fractures from osteoporosis can result in pain and disability. Osteoporosis is a major health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans, 68 percent of whom are women.
Risk factors for developing osteoporosis include:
- thinness or small frame
- family history of the disease
- being postmenopausal and particularly having had early menopause
- abnormal absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea)
- prolonged use of certain medications, such as those used to treat lupus, asthma, thyroid deficiencies, and seizures
- low calcium intake
- lack of physical activity
- excessive alcohol intake
Osteoporosis often can be prevented. It is known as a silent disease because, if undetected, it can progress for many years without symptoms until a fracture occurs. Osteoporosis has been called a childhood disease with consequences in old age because building healthy bones in youth helps prevent the disease and fractures later in life. However, it is never too late to adopt new habits for healthy bones.
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