5 Questions and Answers You Want to Know About Osteoporosis

February 06, 2018
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WHAT IS OSTEOPOROSIS?

Osteoporosis is a disease that makes bones weak and susceptible to fractures (broken), even when there has been no trauma or only a low level of trauma that would not cause a normal bone to break.
Osteoporosis affects mostly older women, but prevention starts when you are younger. No matter your age, you can take steps to build bone mass and prevent bone loss.

HOW IS OSTEOPOROSIS DIAGNOSED?

Osteoporosis can be diagnosed before a fracture occurs with a bone mineral density (BMD) test using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). However, If a low-trauma fracture occurs in a postmenopausal woman or a man aged 50 or older, a presumptive diagnosis of osteoporosis may be made regardless of BMD.

WHY IS OSTEOPOROSIS IMPORTANT?

About 44 million Americans have osteoporosis or low bone mass (osteopenia) that could lead to low trauma fractures.
Osteoporotic fractures can result in chronic pain, disability, loss of independence, and increased risk for death.

RISKS FOR OSTEOPOROSIS?

  • Post-Menopause. After menopause, ovaries make very little of the hormone estrogen, which helps to protect bone density.
  • Low body weight
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Mexican-American or Caucasian race. One in four Mexican-American women and about one in six white women over 50 years old have osteoporosis. Asian-American women also have a higher risk for osteoporosis because they are usually smaller and thinner than other women and therefore may have less bone density.
  • Not enough calcium and vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D work together to build and maintain strong bones.
  • Not enough physical activity. Women of all ages need to get regular weight-bearing physical activity, such as walking, dancing, or playing tennis, to help build and maintain bone density.
  • Not getting a period for 3 months if reproductive age. This is called amenorrhea, and If you have amenorrhea and you are not pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking a medicine that stops your periods, talk to your doctor or nurse. Not getting your period means your ovaries may have stopped making estrogen.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Tobacco use. Women who smoke have lower bone density and often go through menopause earlier than nonsmokers.7 Studies also suggest that smoking raises your risk for broken bones, and this risk goes up the longer you smoke and the more cigarettes you smoke.8
  • Certain health issues that raise the risk of getting osteoporosis.Such as diabetes, premature ovarian failure, celiac disease, inflammatory disease and depression
  • Certain medicines, such as some that treat arthritis, asthma, and thyroid disorders
  • Heavy alcohol consumption. 

 

HOW IS OSTEOPOROSIS TREATED?

All adults should take care to be physically active and maintain an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D.

A daily intake of about 1200 mg calcium in the diet plus supplements, if needed, and vitamin D 800 to 1000 IU is recommended.

In the frail elderly, fall prevention measures include an evaluation of the home to look for ways to reduce the risk for falls, leg-strengthening exercises, and balance training.

Medications are helpful to reduce fracture risk when it is high.

For More Information:

Women’s Health
National Osteoporosis Foundation

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