Screening and lifestyle choices can help prevent osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that affects five times more women than men. Our Grapevine and Fort Worth obgyns want women to understand this potentially dangerous health condition.
This condition causes bones to become brittle, thin and fragile. Normally, new bone tissue is constantly regenerated to replace old tissue. However, when a woman develops osteoporosis, new tissue isn’t regenerated quickly enough to replace the old bone tissue, leading to weak bones that are prone to fractures.
Certain risk factors for osteoporosis cannot be changed
The most important risk factor for osteoporosis is being female, primarily due to the loss of estrogen during menopause. Estrogen is a critical hormone that protects a woman’s bones. As women age, estrogen decreases and their risk of developing osteoporosis increases dramatically.
Several additional factors increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Having a sibling or parent with the disease.
- Having Caucasian, Mexican-American or Asian heritage
- Leading a sedentary life
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Having an overactive thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or other conditions
- Weighing less than 127 pounds or having a small frame
- Taking certain medications long-term, including steroids and glucocorticoids
Symptoms may not appear for years after the disease develops
Osteoporosis is sometimes called “the silent disease” because it can be present for years before a woman notices any symptoms. The silent nature of the disease is one of the reasons why our Grapevine and Fort Worth obgyns urge women to have their annual well woman exams and have bone density testing starting at age 65 with retesting every two years. Women who have certain risk factors may need the screening test earlier.
Here are some symptoms and warning signs of osteoporosis to be aware of:
- Back pain
- Curvature of the spine and other postural changes, such as hunching or sloping shoulders
- Height loss
- Broken bones, especially in the hips, wrists or spinal vertebrae
Prevention begins with lifestyle changes
The good news about osteoporosis is that women can take action to prevent it.
- Aim for 600 to 800 international units (IUs) of vitamin D per day, along with 1000 IUs of calcium each day from ages 18 to 50 and 1200 IUs starting at age 50.
- Do weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging, hiking and strength training.
- Do not smoke.
- Do not drink excessive amounts of alcohol, defined as three or more drinks each day.
Treatment plans can prevent further weakness and strengthen bones
When bone density scans indicate that a patient has osteoporosis, our Grapevine and Fort Worth obgyns develop a treatment plan to help strengthen bones and prevent further bone deterioration. There are also a variety of medications available.
Our physicians believe in taking a proactive approach to osteoporosis to prevent dangerous bone thinning and fractures. Contact us for an appointment to learn more.