Thyroid Problems

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Osteopenia

One symptom that can appear in cases of hypothyroidism is osteopenia. This condition is a situation where a patient's bone mineral density is below the level that is normal. Some professionals think that it is a precursor to the development of osteoporosis, a type of bone disease. Despite this, not all cases of osteopenia lead to that condition.

Causes

Various factors can be behind the development of osteopenia. As mentioned, people with hypothyroidism may have this issue show up. Due to the loss of estrogen, it is relatively common in post-menopausal females. Certain lifestyle factors can also worsen the condition. Some of these including not getting exercise, long-term use of glucocorticoids (like those prescribed for patients with asthma), drinking alcoholic beverages excessively, and smoking.

Osteopenia also appears normally as people age. However, it can also show up in younger people, particularly in young female athletes.

Diagnosis

A doctor or other professional is the one to make a diagnosis of a case of osteopenia. X-rays to check the bones are often used. There has been some disagreement over the definition of the condition, with one group defining it as being at least one standard deviation below the normal (for a 30 year old caucasian female). If this definition is followed, and its counterpart for osteoporosis (2.5 standard deviations) is used, then the definition of osteopenia is where the bone mineral density is at least 1.0 and less than 2.5 standard deviations below normal. This measurement is done using a T-score, which compares the density to that of a person who is 30 years old, and also of the same ethnicity and gender.

Treatment

There is no guarantee that a method used in one case of osteopenia will be the ideal choice for another one, as factors need to be considered. Please discuss with a medical doctor rather than attempting to select a type of treatment based upon anything you read on this page. Medication is sometimes used.

Read about other medical signs that appear in hypothyroidism, or look into general symptoms of thyroid problems. You can also return to the home page to browse other details on thyroid problems.