The Silent Disease
Osteoporosis and related bone disorders affect 27 million American women, 75 percent of whom don’t even know they have it. While some bone loss can be expected as part of the normal aging process, osteoporosis is a dangerous disease. It occurs when bones become porous, brittle and likely to break. Half of women past menopause have or are at high risk of developing osteoporosis.
The good news is that testing is quick, easy and painless, and there are many different treatments available that can reduce the risk of fractures.
Bone densitometry measures the density of bone material to determine if there is an increased risk of fracture or osteoporosis. The bone densitometer uses small amounts of X-rays to measure the amount of bone material in the spine, hip or whole body. Test results will be compared to that of a young person, when bone is at its strongest, and to the bone density of people your own age. This gives the physician a basis to determine if you are at risk of osteoporosis fractures. There are several ways to reduce your chance of fractures, and your physician can discuss these with you.
Are You At Risk?
Your chances of developing osteoporosis are greater if you are female and answer "yes" to any of the following questions:
- Thin or small framed
- Approaching or past menopause
- Milk intolerant or have a low calcium intake
- A cigarette smoker or drink alcohol in excess
- Taking thyroid medication or steroid-based drugs for asthma, arthritis or cancer
Do you have:
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Chronic intestinal disorders
- A sedentary lifestyle
For More Information
For more information about osteoporosis, treatment options and bone testing, ask your physician or call the National Osteoporosis Foundation at 1-800-231-4222.