Osteoporosis is a condition of the abnormal functioning of bone building cells. The abnormality can lead to weak and brittle bones. Weak bones can quickly lead to fractures and breaks that can cause significant pain and problems. Bones are important structures in the body that help with growth and support of vital organs. Osteoporosis is more common in women who have passed menopause, but it affects both men and women. Sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone help protect bone. As we age we have less of these hormones and the risk for osteoporosis increases. Low calcium and vitamin D levels also lead to weak bones. The continued use of medications such as steroids and proton pump inhibitors can sometimes lead to brittle bones.
Bisphosphonate medications such as alendronate (Fosamax) help improve the bone tissue in people who have a high risk of a fracture. Side effects include nausea and difficulty swallowing due to inflammation inside the throat. Some women may be prescribed estrogen after menopause.