What Women Need To Know About Osteoporosis

What Women Need To Know About Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become extremely weak and at risk for breaking. By 2020, approximately 12.3 million individuals in the United States older than 50 are expected to have osteoporosis. Many don’t experience symptoms until they suffer a bone fracture, but by knowing the risk factors that correlate with the condition, you can take preventative measures to avoid fractures.

Screening

Women should have a bone density scan (DXA scan) at age 65 to determine their risk for osteoporosis. Younger women with a family history of osteoporosis or another risk factor might need to screen earlier. There is no clinical recommendation to screen men.

Risk factors

Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis, especially older women. In addition, women with small body frames and who are of white or Asian descent are at an even greater risk.

Also, having a family history of osteoporosis likely means you are at risk of developing it as you age. One example is having a parent who has suffered a hip fracture.

Health issues, including thyroid issues, eating disorders, low hormone levels and low calcium intake can also contribute to the risk of developing osteoporosis.

“It’s important to know your family history of osteoporosis and start preventative treatment early if you have certain risk factors,” said Dr. Charles Giangarra, orthopedic surgeon at UCF Health. “The condition itself is not life threatening, but the repercussions, such as a broken hip, can be. Prevention is the best treatment option.”

Prevention

One of the most effective ways to prevent osteoporosis is to stay active and practice good nutrition. Also, if you’re a smoker, quit. Cigarettes speed up bone loss.

Consuming around 1,000-1,200 milligrams of calcium a day has also been proven effective. Common sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, canned salmon, soy products and almonds. There are also many foods fortified with calcium that can help increase your intake, such as cereals and orange juice.

Various drugs can help slow or stop bone loss, and even rebuild bone strength. These can be in either pill form or obtained through an infusion. As with any drug, there are potential side effects and risk factors to consider. Your doctor can give you some options about how often the medication has to be taken, and take into consideration if you have a sensitive stomach to find the best drug options for you.

If you believe you are at risk for developing osteoarthritis or want to know more about how to prevent the condition, talk to your doctor about screening you for osteoporosis.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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