Learn More About Osteoporosis from Lake Mary Doctors

Osteoporosis, also known as the “thin bone disease” affects 10 million Americans. Another 34 million are affected by osteopenia, a milder form of osteoporosis. Unless bones are properly taken care of calcium in bones depletes as people get older causing weak and brittle bones. Osteoporosis is most common in premenopausal women. In fact up to one fifth of bone calcium can be lost in women five to seven years after menopause. Men tend to lose bone calcium and density as well, but the rate for men is much slower than women. As a result it’s recommended that women over the age of 65 and men over the age of 70 be tested for osteoporosis. It is recommended that postmenopausal women under 65 and men under 70 who have one or more risk factor for osteoporosis get tested sooner. These risk factors include family history, vitamin deficiency, and a history of broken bones.

Getting tested for osteoporosis is quick and easy, simply contact our Lake Mary physicians to make an appointment. Dual energy x-ray absorpitomety (DXA) is the standard test. It takes ten minutes to complete and is completely painless. A machine beams photons through your bones and is then able to compute your bone density. DXA is safe as well, only using one-tenth the radiation that chest x-rays do. Ultrasounds can also be used to test bone mineral density. However, this method isn’t as accurate, although it does take less than a minute to complete.

The good news is with a combination of calcium, vitamin D, and exercise osteoporosis can be prevented or managed. Calcium is crucial in building strong bones. If your body is calcium deficient however, your body will begin to draw calcium from your bones. Foods such as dairy products, spinach, broccoli, fish, and tofu are all rich sources of calcium. Supplements such as calcium citrate and calcium carbonate can also be used when diet isn’t enough to achieve sufficient calcium.

It is recommended that those over the age of 51 consume 1,200 mg of calcium a day. Be careful not to exceed 2,500 mg a day as too much calcium can have detrimental side effects including an increased risk of prostate cancer in men. Vitamin D is then needed to facilitate calcium absorption. Vitamin D3 supplements are best in order to achieve sufficient Vitamin D. Finally, 30 minutes a day of weight-bearing exercise (running, walking, weight lifting, stair climbing, etc.) can also help increase bone calcium. A combination of these three tactics can naturally help build your bones. For those with osteoporosis though this may not be enough and using medication too is the best option.

There are a variety of medication options available to osteoporosis patients that your Lake Mary internists can prescribe to you. Bisphosphonates are a family of medications primarily used in postmenopausal women. Bisphosphonates help slow bone loss and modestly increases bone density when used with calcium and vitamin D. Raloxifene is another option used for prevention or treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Raloxifene is a selective estrogen receptor modulator which slows bone loss doesn’t increase your risk for uterine cancer, and reduces your risk for breast cancer.

Calcitonin is also exclusively for postmenopausal women as it hasn’t been tested in men yet, but is strictly for treatment and not prevention. This medication works by reducing the breakdown of bone, but is less effective than other treatments. Parathyroid hormone treatment is for both men and postmenopausal women and cannot be used for prevention. This treatment promotes calcium absorption in intestines, slows excretion of calcium by the kidneys, may help build new bone, and may dramatically increase bone mass.

While the effects of osteoporosis can be painful, causing small fractures of the hip, wrist, spine, and other bones. Osteoporosis is both treatable and preventable though. It is never too early in life to begin taking proper care of your bones. This helps keep them strong throughout your life. Be sure to engage in regular weight-bearing exercise and get enough calcium and vitamin D in order to strengthen bones. Also avoid bone-depleting behaviors such as smoking and excessive drinking alcohol. These behaviors will help prevent the development of osteoporosis in the future. If you are concerned about your risk of osteoporosis make an appointment with your Lake Mary doctor today!

Photo Credit: Thera-Band Academy Blog

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