Learn what osteoporosis is and why women of all ages should know about how to prevent it.
How Does Osteoporosis Get Diagnosed?
A special x-ray of the spine and hip called a DXA scan measures the amount of bone mineral density and is used to determine if someone has osteoporosis. All postmenopausal women age 65 or older should get routinely screened with a DXA scan. Some women younger than 65 years old with some of the previously mentioned risk factors may get screened earlier than age 65, however. If you are 65 years old or more, or if you are younger but have any of the above risk factors, you should consult your physician and discuss the need for getting screened.
How Do You Prevent Bone Loss?
It’s important to prevent bone loss now--there is no time like the present. You don’t want to wait until you’ve already been diagnosed with osteoporosis to start working on your bone health. Here are my three quick and dirty tips to help prevent bone loss:
Diet: Postmenopausal women all require about 1500 mg/day of calcium (in divided doses), in addition to 800 IU (International Units) of Vitamin D daily. So if you don’t consume enough dairy products, you’ll need to take some supplements to compensate for it. You should also limit your alcohol intake, and do not consume more than 1 or 2 drinks a day. Bone appétit!
Exercise: 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week will help prevent bone loss in women. The exercise should preferably be weight-bearing, such as walking, running, or aerobics, in which you bear the weight of your body on your feet. And no, a walk around the mall does not constitute as exercise!
Smoking Cessation: You may not be able to change the fact that you are female, that you are thin-framed, or that you have a family history of osteoporosis. But there are certain factors you can change about yourself, and this is an important one to work on – quit smoking! No if’s, and’s, or bones about it!
How Do You Treat Osteoporosis?
Once you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, besides following the above advice on how to prevent further bone loss, your doctor may want to place you on medications to help prevent further loss as well. The medication that is prescribed most often for osteoporosis is in the group called the Bisphosphonates. This group of medicines help prevent further bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures. You may not gain the amount of bone you lost already, but it will help prevent even more bone loss occurring with the aging process.
Now that you know all about osteoporosis, let’s get cracking on preventing it!