There are come common risk factors and you they are unchangeable. For instance, your sex. Women, especially post menopausal, are much more likely to develop osteoporosis then men, but men aren't off the hook. There are at least 2 million men with osteoporosis and this will increase as men begin to live longer. The older you get, the greater the chance of developing osteoporosis. You're also at a greater risk if any close relatives have had osteoporosis and Caucasion and Asian women are at a greater risk.
The reduction of sex hormones, estrogen for women and testosterone for men, also contribute to osteoporosis. Dietary factors associated with osteoporosis include low calcium intake, eating disorders and stomach bypass surgery. Certain medications, especially corticosteroids such as prednisone and cortisone, can contribute to osteoporosis.
Lifestyle choices also can put you at a greater risk for osteoporosis. Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol, especially more than two drinks a day, will put you at greater risk, as will a sedentary lifestyle and a lack of exercise.
Bone fractures, especially of the hip and spine, are the most common complications of osteoporosis. A fall can easily break a hip, causing disability and even lead to death. Spinal fractures can occur with or without an injury. Sometimes a sneeze or cough can cause a fracture.
The best way to diagnose osteoporosis is to measure bone density. This can be done by a machine that uses low levels of x-ray to measure the strength of your bones. Your doctor can order this for you.
Osteoporsis can be treated with drugs called biophosphonates. Your doctor would have a choice of one of several of these drugs to treat you. Use of the sex hormones estrogen for women and testoterone for men can also be useful in treating osteoporosis. Some controversy exists over the use of these hormones. Your doctor will explain the risks and benefits.
So, to avoid osteoporosis, avoid excessive consumption of alcohol, don't smoke, try to avoid falls, exercise regularly, and consume adequate amounts of calcium. It is recommended that the total daily calcium intake from diet or supplements not exceed 2,000 mg. daily for people over age 50. Consume adequate amounts of vitamin D, which is necessary for your body to absorb calcium. Talk to your doctor about what dose would be best for you.
- Terry Hollenbeck, M.D., is an urgent-care physician at Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz in Scotts Valley. Readers can view his previous columns on his website, valleydoctor.wordpress.com, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information in this column is not intended to replace advice from your own health care professional. For any medical concern, consult your own doctor.