22. Do you need testing for osteoporosis?
You should be tested for osteoporosis if you are a woman age 65 or older, or if you are age 60 or older and are at an increased risk for an osteoporosis-related fracture.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to become weak and break. It is often called a "silent” disease because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People may not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump or fall causes a fracture. Most osteoporosis-related fractures (broken bones) are in the hip, back and wrist.
What causes osteoporosis?
Factors that increase your chances of developing osteoporosis are called risk factors. Risk factors may include a family history of osteoporosis, your age, your diet, an inactive lifestyle and cigarette smoking. Women can lose as much as 20 percent of their bone mass in five to seven years following menopause.
How do I find out if I have osteoporosis?
- Specialized tests called bone mineral density (BMD) tests can measure bone density in various sites of the body. These tests involve scanning of specific bones in your body and are quick, easy, and painless. BMD tests may include dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (or DXA scan), quantitative ultrasonography (QUS), and quantitative computerized tomography (CT scan).
- Talk with your doctor to find out if you should be tested for osteoporosis.
How is osteoporosis treated?
Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, there are medications used to slow down the bone loss and even rebuild the strength of the bones.
What can I do to prevent osteoporosis?
- Eat a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
- Perform weight-bearing exercises (such as walking, jogging, tennis, dancing).
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol intake.
- Get bone density testing, supplements and medication, when appropriate.
- Talk with your doctor.
For additional information:
- Discuss with your physician.
- Contact Affinity NurseDirect at 1-800-362-9900 toll-free, (920) 738-2230 in the Fox Cities, or (920) 231-6578 in Oshkosh.
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Adapted from: U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services - National Institutes of Health (NIH)