Osteoporosis weakens bones and raises the risk of fractures. Complications from these fractures can sometimes be fatal.

Osteoporosis is a disease involving weakened and brittle bones. While the disease itself is rarely fatal, people with osteoporosis are at a higher risk of bone fractures. These fractures can lead to complications such as pneumonia and blood clots, which can lead to death.

It’s important to seek treatment for osteoporosis because early intervention can help prevent bone loss, increase bone strength, and reduce the risk of fractures.

Osteoporosis treatment options may include medications to improve bone density, lifestyle strategies to promote bone health, and exercises to strengthen bones and muscles.

Although osteoporosis itself is not usually fatal, it can lead to serious complications that can lead to death. Osteoporosis can increase your risk of fractures, especially in your hips, spine, and wrists. Hip fractures are the most serious fractures and can significantly affect your overall health.

They can lead to chronic pain, disability, and premature death in severe cases. Additionally, fractures in older adults can lead to complications such as pneumonia, which can be life threatening.

Fractures — particularly hip fractures — are a common cause of death in people with osteoporosis. According to a 2019 research review, up to 22% of people who experience a hip fracture die within a year after the fracture as a result of underlying medical conditions.

Other fractures can also lead to serious complications. For example, vertebral compression fractures can lead to spinal cord injuries, increased risk of other fractures, and progressive deformity.

Additionally, osteoporosis-related fractures can lead to limited mobility and a loss of independence, which can decrease quality of life, increasing the risk of death and disability.

Life expectancy with osteoporosis can vary depending on several factors, including whether the condition is treated. Seeking treatment early and sticking to a treatment plan can improve your outlook and life expectancy.

In one older 2015 study, researchers estimated that the life expectancy of a 50-year-old man starting osteoporosis treatment was 18.2 years, while that of a 75-year-old man was 7.5 years. For women, the estimates were 26.4 years for a 50-year-old woman and 13.5 years for a 75-year-old woman.

Untreated osteoporosis can increase the risk of death, especially in older adults and especially when the condition involves fractures. Consider speaking with a healthcare professional for guidance based on your individual circumstances.

Several factors can affect your life expectancy with osteoporosis, including:

  • the presence of fractures or other underlying medical conditions
  • your age at diagnosis
  • your overall health
  • the severity of the disease
  • your adherence to treatment
  • lifestyle factors such as excessive alcohol consumption and inadequate nutrition

Although it may not be possible to prevent osteoporosis completely, there are some strategies that can help reduce the risk of complications.

Preventing falls

You can help reduce your risk of falls (and, therefore, your risk of fractures) by creating a safe living environment, removing hazards, using assistive devices (if needed), and keeping floors clear of clutter.

Getting enough calcium and vitamin D

These nutrients are crucial for maintaining bone health. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods. You can get vitamin D through sunlight exposure and by taking supplements.

Exercising regularly

Exercise — especially weight bearing activities such as walking, jogging, and weightlifting — can strengthen your bones and improve your bone density. But consider speaking with a healthcare professional before starting any exercise program.

Avoiding smoking and alcohol consumption

Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption have been linked to increased bone loss. Taking steps to minimize these habits can help prevent complications. Quitting smoking can be difficult, but a doctor can help you build a cessation plan that works for you.

End stage osteoporosis is the advanced, severe form of the disease marked by significant bone loss and fragility. At this stage, the risk of fractures is high, and even minor injuries can lead to serious complications.

In end stage osteoporosis, you may experience frequent fractures, chronic pain, and loss of mobility. Treatment options become more challenging as the disease progresses, and managing pain and preventing further fractures become the primary goals.

A healthcare professional may recommend supportive care, including physical therapy, pain management, and lifestyle changes to improve quality of life.

Untreated osteoporosis can have serious negative effects on your health, including:

  • increased risk of fractures
  • chronic pain
  • loss of height as a result of compression fractures
  • kyphosis (stooped posture)
  • decreased mobility and independence

It’s important to seek treatment for osteoporosis to minimize these possible side effects and maintain optimal bone health. Treatment options may include lifestyle strategies such as eating a balanced diet, getting enough calcium and vitamin D, engaging in weight bearing exercise, and finding ways to prevent falls.

In some cases, a healthcare professional may recommend medications such as bisphosphonates, hormone therapy, or monoclonal antibodies, which can help slow down bone loss and reduce fracture risk.

Here are some frequently asked questions about osteoporosis.

Is osteoporosis hereditary?

While genetics may increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, it is not entirely hereditary. Other factors, including underlying medical conditions and some lifestyle habits, can contribute to osteoporosis.

Can osteoporosis be cured?

While osteoporosis has no cure, you can effectively manage it with proper treatment, lifestyle strategies, and medication. Treatment aims to slow down bone loss, improve bone density, and reduce the risk of fractures.

Can osteoporosis lead to bone cancer?

Osteoporosis does not directly lead to bone cancer. But people with certain cancers, including breast cancer, may have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

Should I worry if I have osteoporosis?

While osteoporosis is concerning, effective treatment options are available to help you manage the disease and reduce the risk of fractures and complications. Consider speaking with a healthcare professional to create a treatment plan and take steps to prevent further bone loss.

Consider speaking with a healthcare professional if you:

  • experience a fracture due to a minor injury or with no apparent cause
  • have persistent pain
  • notice a significant loss of height
  • have a sudden change in your posture or the curvature of your spine

Doctors can perform the necessary tests and recommend appropriate treatment options to help you maintain or improve your bone health.

Osteoporosis weakens your bones and increases your risk of fractures, particularly in your hips, spine, and wrists. Complications from these fractures can lead to chronic pain, loss of height, decreased mobility, and death.

The goal of treatment is to slow down bone loss and reduce fracture risk. Therefore, seeking treatment early and managing the disease can significantly improve life expectancy.