Osteoporosis

Early Detection of Osteoporosis

Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone.

Osteoporosis affects men and women of all races. But white and Asian women — especially older women who are past menopause — are at highest risk.

Symptoms

There typically are no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. But once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you may have signs and symptoms that include:

Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra.

Loss of height over time.

A stooped posture.

A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected.

On the flip side, if you’re not closely monitoring your blood sugar levels, they can drop too low. Warning signs of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, include:

Dizziness & Irritability

Sweating

Weakness & Lack of coordination

Risk Factors

A number of factors can increase the likelihood that you’ll develop osteoporosis — including your age, race, lifestyle choices, and medical conditions and treatments.

Some risk factors for osteoporosis are out of your control, including:

Your sex. Women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis than are men.

Age. The older you get, the greater your risk of osteoporosis.

Race. You're at greatest risk of osteoporosis if you're white or of Asian descent.

Family history. Having a parent or sibling with osteoporosis puts you at greater risk, especially if your mother or father experienced a hip fracture.

Body frame size. Men and women who have small body frames tend to have a higher risk because they may have less bone mass to draw from as they age.

When to see a doctor

You may want to talk to your doctor about osteoporosis if you went through early menopause or took corticosteroids for several months at a time, or if either of your parents had hip fractures.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Your bone density can be measured by a machine that uses low levels of X-rays to determine the proportion of mineral in your bones. During this painless test, you lie on a padded table as a scanner passes over your body. In most cases, only a few bones are checked — usually in the hip, wrist and spine.

Treatment recommendations are often based on an estimate of your risk of breaking a bone in the next 10 years using information such as the bone density test. If the risk is not high, treatment might not include medication and might focus instead on modifying risk factors for bone loss and falls.

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