Osteoporosis is often described as the “silent” disease. Because it is painless, it has the potential to creep up unannounced, and you may not realize you have it until you break a bone.
What Is Osteoporosis?
As you age, your bones can lose thickness and strength. Osteoporosis is a term that describes when your body loses bone mass faster than it can create new bone tissue. This results in weaker, brittle bones that break easily from a minor fall. Even something as small as a cough could cause a broken rib. Although a broken bone is usually the first sign of osteoporosis, some older people develop stooped posture. This may happen when the bones in the spine have broken, making it difficult to support the weight of the body.
Who Is At Risk?
There are several factors that may indicate your risk level for osteoporosis:
- Increased age: Individuals lose bone mass as they get older. Women starting at 65 and men starting at 70 should monitor for signs.
- Gender: Research shows women start losing bone mass earlier and faster than men. Family history: If multiple family members have had osteoporosis, it increases your risk.
- Bone structure / body weight: Individuals with a petite or thinner frame or lower body weight are at greater risk.
- Overall health: Certain chronic conditions and medications can weaken your bones. Smoking and alcohol use can contribute to poor bone health as well.
DEXA Scans Identify and Monitor Osteoporosis
DEXA scans measure the mineral content of the bones to determine bone density and identify risk or diagnose osteoporosis. Your doctor may recommend a DEXA scan if you have multiple risk factors for osteoporosis or fractures. DEXA scans are also used to track bone health changes over time and monitor your response to treatment. Medications, sticking to a healthy diet, and weight-bearing exercise can help strengthen bones and prevent bone loss. Don’t wait until you suffer an injury to assess your risk. Take action to support your bone health and schedule a DEXA scan.