How To Minimize Your Risk Of Steroid-Induced Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a debilitating bone disease that weakens the structure of the bones by targeting their cellular growth, explains the National Institute on Aging (NIA). As a result, they become so fragile that they might easily break off or fracture at the lightest impact. Osteoporosis usually affects the bones in joints such as knees, wrists, spine, and hips. 

Statistics from the American Osteoporosis Foundation reveal that osteoporosis affects a whopping 10 million of the population in the U.S. Per NIA, osteoporosis affects both genders but typically more women after the age of 30 years. According to Mayo Clinic, there are several causes of osteoporosis. You may be at high risk of this bone disease if your calcium intake has been low throughout your early adulthood. Your ethnicity is also critical, as Asians and Caucasians are more prone to osteoporosis. Additionally, people with low body weight or small body frames are more prone to this disease. On the other hand, symptoms of osteoporosis may also affect young adults if they take too many corticosteroids, according to a 2015 study published in Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases. This is common in people who undergo corticosteroid therapy and have to take certain doses during the treatment.

Tips to reduce the risk of steroid-induced osteoporosis

Dr. Katherine Wysham, a professor of rheumatology at UW School of Medicine in Seattle, Washington, says that taking too many glucocorticoids can be detrimental to your bone health (via Everyday Health). That's because steroids are capable of absorbing calcium from bones and aggravating the bone deterioration process. 

In an interview with Everyday Health, Dr. Wysham explained that oral intake of more than or equal to 5 milligrams (or, in some studies, as low as 2.5 milligrams) of prednisone increases the risk of steroid-induced osteoporosis. Instead, she recommends using external steroids such as inhalers or ointments as they have a significantly lower impact. Moreover, as per a 2012 study in Aging Health, one of the most effective ways to prevent the risk of steroid-induced osteoporosis is by managing the dosage. Under the rules laid out by the American College of Rheumatology, they further suggest minimizing the duration of steroid therapy to lower the risk of the bone destruction process. 

Another study conducted in 2018 recommended adding calcium and vitamin D supplements to the daily intake regimes in people who take excess glucocorticoids as it can help balance out the loss caused by steroids.