Bone health is a top priority for comfort and stability as we age. Bones provide structure, protect organs, anchor muscles and store calcium.Proper precaution and simple awareness may reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become so thin and brittle that they can break during normal daily activities. Our bones increase in mass and strength through adolescence and early adulthood; however, after age 30 they begin to slowly thin as a result of natural aging.
Both men and women can have bone health issues, but women tend to carry more risk factors for osteoporosis. Often called the "silent" disease, osteoporosis may go undetected until a bone is broken, and you are left with pain, deformity and possible disability.
Am I at risk for osteoporosis?
A number of factors are known to increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, including:
How can I reduce my risk of osteoporosis?
- Age. The older you are, the greater the risk.
- Cigarette smoking. May reduce bone density.
- Low-calcium diet. Calcium deficiencies may lead to osteoporosis.
- Family history. Genetic factors can contribute to low bone density.
- Gender .Women have less bone tissue and lose bone more rapidly than men because of hormonal changes during menopause.
- Heavy alcohol use.
- Activity levels. Inactivity or a lack of exercise increases your risk.
- Menopause. Women in menopause and those who stop menstruating before menopause due to anorexia, bulimia or excessive exercise may lose bone density more rapidly.
- Medications or disease. Medications such as cortisone and some endocrine disorders can cause bone loss.
- Race. People of Caucasian and Asian descent are at higher risk, although osteoporosis affects all ethnic backgrounds.
- Small bone structure.
- Low body weight
Prevention and early treatment play a major role in reducing the risk of fractures from osteoporosis. You can reduce your risk of osteoporosis through lifestyle changes, such as diet, exercise and smoking cessation. Medications can help you preserve strong bones as you grow older.
Your health care provider is a good resource for:
How do I know if I have osteoporosis?
- Determining your risk for osteoporosis
- Identifying measures to maintain or improve your bone health
- Assessing your need for a bone density test
People in the early stages of osteoporosis have no symptoms. Bone density tests are the best way to accurately measure the strength and mass of your bones. You should consider having your bone density tested if you are:
- Female, age 65 and older
- Postmenopausal with one or more additional risk factors
- Postmenopausal and have had a fracture
Bone density is measured with a bone densitometry exam. The test measures the amount of bone mineral content (bone density) in specific areas of the body, usually the hip and spine. The exam is quick, simple, painless, and you remain clothed. Bone density exams are routinely performed at the Pavlic Center on the Elmbrook Memorial campus.
For more information
- Talk with your health care provider to determine if bone density testing is appropriate for you. A physician order is required.
- To schedule a bone densitometry appointment please call Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare's Centralized Scheduling department at (414) 527-5000.