How healthy are your bones?
It is estimated that within the next fifteen years half of all Americans over the age of 50 will suffer from weak and brittle bones caused by osteoporosis.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease which causes the deterioration of your bone tissue resulting in low bone mass and an increased risk of bone fractures. Basically, this means your bones become brittle and break more easily.
How does Osteoporosis affect me?
Imagine a simple turn of your foot causing a bone to snap or cracking a bone in your wrist by picking up your grandchild. The most common fractures from osteoporosis are of the wrist, spine, and hip. Frequently, individuals with these fractures experience significant pain, loss of height, and respiratory and digestive problems. Additionally, many lose their independence due to an inability to dress themselves, stand up, and walk.
Hip fractures are the most devastating type of fracture and account for 300,000 hospitalizations each year. Even more alarming, over 20% of patients will die or end up in a nursing home within a year of having a hip fracture.
Am I at risk for developing Osteoporosis?
Everyone has a risk of developing osteoporosis, which is a public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans. Although more common among post-menopausal women, osteoporosis can also occur in men, children, and pre-menopausal women of all ethnic backgrounds. One in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in his/her remaining lifetime.
What are the risk factors for Osteoporosis?
Listed below are some major risk factors for osteoporosis:
• Increased age
• Female gender
• Low bone weight and thin skeletal frame
• Physical inactivity
• Corticosteroid use
• Personal and family history of fractures
How can I tell if I have Osteoporosis?
Talk to your doctor if you have any of the risk factors for osteoporosis or have concerns about the health of your bones. Most people will have osteoporosis and never be aware of it. Unfortunately, your first warning sign of osteoporosis may be a broken bone. If you are at risk for osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend a bone mineral density test to determine the current health of your bones.
Is the bone mineral density test uncomftable?
The DEXA (Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) is the most common and accepted technique for measuring your bone density. This test uses x-rays to measure your bone mineral density and compares the results to that of a young, healthy adult. The DEXA test is safe and painless and usually takes 20 minutes or less.
Is there anything I can do to prevent Osteoporosis?
You are never too old or too young to improve your bone health. Osteoporosis can be prevented, as well as diagnosed and treated. Essential to maintaining bone mass is good nutrition, which includes a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
Some foods rich in calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, broccoli, almonds, oranges and salmon. Recommended sources for vitamin D include salmon, tuna, fortified margarine, and milk. In addition to food sources, there are many available forms of calcium and vitamin D supplements that can be recommended by your doctor.
Other ways of preventing bone loss are performing weight-bearing exercises, limiting alcohol consumption, and not smoking.
What are my options if I have Osteoporosis?
If your bones are already weak and have placed you at an increase risk of having a fracture, your doctor may prescribe an FDA approved medication to treat your osteoporosis. Although there is no cure, there are several treatment options currently approved by the FDA for the management of osteoporosis. Actonel, Fosamax, Boniva, Evista, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or Forteo are medications your doctor may prescribe in addition to recommending diet and lifestyle changes.
Will my insurance cover Osteoporosis screening?
Many insurance providers including Medicare will cover a bone density scan if you have or are at risk of developing osteoporosis. Your best course of action is to see your doctor to determine your risk level and consult with him/her on treatment options.
Where can I find additional information on Osteoporosis?
– Ask your doctor for literature on prevention and treatment of osteoporosis
– Download the “2004 Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Heath and Osteoporosis: What it Means to You,” at www.surgeongeneral.gov
– Visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation’s website at www.nof.org