Are You at Risk for Osteoporosis?
Our bones support us and allow us to move. They protect our brain, heart, and other organs from injury. Our bones also store minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, which help keep our bones strong, and release them into the body when we need them for other uses.
But if we don't eat right and don't get enough of the right kinds of
exercise, our bones can become weak and even break. Broken bones and fractures can be
painful and sometimes need surgery to heal. They can also cause long-lasting health
But the good news is that it is never too late to take care of your bones.
What Is Osteoporosis?
There are many kinds of bone diseases. The most common one is osteoporosis. With osteoporosis, our bones become weak and are more likely to break. People with osteoporosis most often break bones in the wrist, spine, and hip.
Who Gets Osteoporosis?
There are many things that can increase your chances of getting osteoporosis. Some risk factors are things you can control, and some are outside of your control.
Risk factors You Can Control
Not getting enough calcium or vitamin D increases your chances of getting osteoporosis.
- Physical activity.
Not exercising and not being active for long periods of time increases your chances.
- Body weight.
Being too thin makes you more likely to get osteoporosis.
Smoking cigarettes can keep your body from using the calcium in your diet. Also, women who smoke go through menopause earlier than those who don't smoke. These things can increase your risk for osteoporosis.
People who drink a lot are more likely to get osteoporosis.
Certain medicines can cause bone loss. These include a type of medicine called glucocorticoids, which are given to people who have arthritis, asthma, and many other diseases. Some other medicines that prevent seizures and that treat endometriosis a disease of the uterus, and cancer can cause bone loss, too.
Risk Factors You Cannot Control
Your chances of getting osteoporosis increase as you get older.
You have a greater chance of getting osteoporosis if you are a woman. Yet, men also suffer from osteoporosis.
White women and Asian women are most likely to get osteoporosis. Hispanic women and African American women are also at risk, but less so.
- Family history.
Having a close family member who has osteoporosis or has broken a bone may also increase your risk.
Am I Really at Risk?
Other health problems can also increase your risk for bone loss. If you have one of the following health problems, talk to your doctor about your bone health:
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How Do I Know if I Have Osteoporosis?
Since osteoporosis does not have any symptoms until a bone breaks, it is important to talk to your doctor about your bone health. If your doctor feels that you are at risk for osteoporosis, he or she may order a bone density test. A bone density test measures how strong - or dense - your bones are and whether you have osteoporosis. It can also tell you what your chances are of breaking a bone. Bone density tests are quick, safe, and painless.
Grand View Hospital offers bone density tests (DEXA scan) at any of its convenient locations in Sellersville, Harleysville, Pennsburg, or Quakertown. To schedule a DEXA scan, call 215-453-4100 (a doctor's order may be required).
Content Source: The National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease, http://www.niams.nih.gov.
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a physician or other health-care provider.