Rickets is a condition when the bones become soft and brittle. Along with weak bones, there is also stunted growth and skeletal deformities in the person. Main cause of rickets is the lack of vitamin D, phosphate and calcium in the body.
Vitamin D is necessary for absorption of calcium and phosphates from the intestine. Vitamin D is mainly produced in the body when a person is exposed to sunlight. Other sources of Vitamin D are fish, eggs, and milk. When there is insufficient Vitamin D, this causes low levels of calcium and phosphate in the body. As a result the body signals the release of calcium and phosphate from the bones resulting in weak bones.
Many risk factors have been identified for developing rickets. Rickets are common in children between the ages of 6 and 36 months. It is very common in regions where there is less sunlight and children eat vegetarian food and do not eat milk products. Infants who are fed only on breast milk also have a risk of developing rickets because breast milk has low quantities of vitamin D. People with dark skin are at higher risk because the skin prevents penetration of sunlight thereby avoiding the body from producing vitamin D.
When a person visits a doctor for any sort of pain in the bones, doctor will check the bones to understand if there is any sort of pain or tenderness by slightly touching the bones. Tests like x-ray, blood tests and arterial blood gases test is used to determine the levels of calcium and phosphate in the body along with any check for any skeletal abnormalities.
Treatment for rickets includes recommendations for more exposure to sunlight and consumption of foods high in vitamin D namely eggs, milk and fish. This will slowly remove the symptoms of rickets namely tenderness in the bones. Calcium and vitamin D supplements also provided as treatment for rickets.
Best way to prevent rickets is by eating adequate amounts of calcium and phosphate. In winter months when sunlight is less, face and hands should be exposed to sunlight. Use of sunscreen during summer may prevent absorption of sunlight by the body and hence adequate intake of foods rich in vitamin D, calcium and phosphate is necessary.
Too much exposure of the body to sunlight may result in sunburn and hence should be avoided. By taking preventive steps one can avoid rickets and help in the formation of healthy bones.