As we age, bones can develop tiny holes and become very weak and brittle – a disease called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes broken bones in millions of Americans. Simple movements such as bending, lifting or even coughing can result in debilitating bone fractures for patients with osteoporosis.
Awareness and preventive practices can help many people avoid fractures as they age. Women should obtain a baseline bone density level beginning at age 65, or earlier if there is a family history of the disease, they are on certain medications or have other risk factors, such as smoking, secondary lifestyle, or alcoholism. Rebuilding bone loss is not always possible; preventing bone loss is the key.
There are multiple risk factors for osteoporosis:
- Early menopause (before age 45)
- Surgical menopause
- Previous fracture
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Certain medications (including steroids and thyroid hormones)
- Caucasian/Asian descent
- Thin or small build
- Alcohol abuse
- Inactive lifestyle
- Inadequate calcium intake
Talk to you doctor to determine your risk for osteoporosis. He or she may recommend a bone density (bone densitometry) scan to determine your bone mass and your potential for bone fractures.