Although osteoporosis – defined as a T-score of -2.5 or below on such a scan – is a serious, and sometimes deadly, disease, you have tremendous opportunities to safeguard your health in the years to come. As you discuss your health with your primary physician and other medical professionals, here are some of the issues you may want to keep in mind.
Tell Those You Trust about Your Osteoporosis. Since osteoporosis is not a readily observable disease, many individuals choose to keep their diagnosis private, sharing it only with their immediate family and closest friends or colleagues. Depending on your situation, you may also want to tell your grandchildren or other younger people who might otherwise hug you too hard or inadvertently create fall hazards such as leaving clutter on the floor or staircases. You may also want to consider your risk of falling at work or other places you frequent, and addressing these safety issues where possible.
Don’t Deny It to Yourself. While whom you choose to share the information with is ultimately up to you, it is important to remember that while keeping quiet is perfectly fine, doing nothing is not. It is vital to plan out – and stick with – a course of action recommended by your physician. This may include medications, weight-bearing exercise, and calcium and Vitamin D supplements, which recent studies have shown to be especially significant in preserving bone mass and muscle strength. If applicable, your physician may provide advice on quitting smoking, reducing drinking, or maintaining an appropriate weight, all factors that can reduce one’s risk of fracture.
Your primary doctor may advise you to see a specialist such as an endocrinologist or rheumatologist, and have follow-up bone densitometry scans every year or every other year. It is highly recommended that your follow your doctor’s instructions as closely as possible.
Know Your Medications. After being diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is important to ensure your medical professional has a complete list of all the medications you are presently taking, as well as your ongoing medical history. One reason is that long-term use of certain medicines can increase the risk of bone fractures, which is crucial information for osteoporosis patients and their doctors. In addition, some medicines – either over-the-counter or by prescription – may cause dizziness or disorientation, raising your chances of a fall.
Your doctor might choose to adjust the dose, substitute another medicine, or eliminate it entirely. Lastly, if your doctor plans to prescribe medication to try to rebuild your bone mass, there could be drug interactions or unintended side effects with some of your other medicines. Remember, never stop any medication without consulting with your doctor first.