- Diagnosing osteoporosis?
Bone loss is diagnosed with a DXA scan. There are also important blood and urine tests that can be done to evaluate your calcium status. Your doctor may want to see if you are absorbing your calcium by checking you serum and urine calcium levels; the doctor will also check your vitamin D levels. In addition to calcium and vitamin D tests, there are tests to see how much bone you are losing, and this can be done on both blood and urine samples. See this article on Bone Marker Tests.
- What are the risk factors for osteoporosis?
Gender, age, body size, ethnicity and family history of osteoporosis are the common risk factors. People of all ages can get osteoporosis, but post menopausal women are the most common. If you have small bones, and a thin frame you are more likely to develop bone loss. Caucasian and Asian women are the most likely to have bone loss, even though other ethnicities are at risk too, just to a lesser extent. If you have a family history of fractures and osteoporosis then that puts you at greater risk for this as well.
- Some medications cause osteoporosis.
Many of us may have to take a medication that causes bone loss; check with your doctor to see what you can do to minimize your bone loss while taking medications. See our list of medications that cause bone loss to see if you are taking any of these.
- Some medical disorders can lead to bone loss.
Medical disorders can also lead to bone loss like: thyroid and parathyroid disorders, malabsorption problems, and Celiac disease. For a full list of these see this article. These are known as secondary disorders that lead to bone loss. If these are treated correctly you should see an increase in bone mineral density.
- Osteoporosis is a silent disorder.
Our bones are in a constant state of break-down and regeneration which you can't feel. It isn't until you've fractured that osteoporosis cause's pain.
If you are having a DXA scan also ask for a Vertebral Fracture Assessment (VFA) test as well which will tell you if you have any compression fractures in the spine that have gone unnoticed.
- You can have a fracture and not know it.
Femur, hip and pelvic fractures are very painful, but spinal compression fractures can occur without us noticing it. See this article on compression fractures and how to treat them.
- Thin, small boned individuals are more likely to get osteoporosis.
Since our bone responds positively to weight bearing exercise, carrying a little more weight on your body can protect you from excessive bone loss.
Women, who exercise excessively, like professional athletics, can loose bone because they are at risk for amenorrhea, the early onset of lost menstrual cycles.
- Calcium, vitamin D and exercise are important.
- Some foods and medications interfere with calcium and D absorption.
If we know what foods, beverages and medications interfere with vitamin D and calcium, we can optimize our intake of this very important vitamin. See the links above for a list of things that cause malabsorption.
- Vitamin D deficient women are more likely to fall.
In a study done on elderly South German women, the doctors found that the woman taking calcium and D were 50 percent less likely to fall and fracture a bone.