Make No Bones About It- Know Your Risk for Osteoporosis.

Make No Bones About It- Know Your Risk for Osteoporosis.

Your bones may support you, but they need your help to stay healthy. The National Osteoporosis Foundation states about 10 million Americans have osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which your body loses bones or doesn’t make enough bone. Sometimes referred to as the “silent disease” because bone loss occurs silently as we get older, meaning there may be no warnings until you have a break. The result of not taking care of your bones is serious.

Know the risks of bone loss
See if you meet any of these risk factors.

  • I am a woman.
  • I am white or Asian.
  • I am inactive.
  • I am over 50 years old.
  • My diet lacks vitamin D and calcium.
  • I broke a bone after age 50.
  • One or more of my family members has osteoporosis.
  • I smoke.
  • I am a heavy drinker.
  • I have low bone density.
  • I have a chronic health condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, hyperthyroidism, liver disease, or diabetes.
  • I am thin or underweight, and small-boned.
  • I take medication that can result in bone loss, such as blood thinners, anti-seizure drugs, breast or prostate cancer drugs, or certain steroids

If one or more of these apply to you, you may be at risk for developing osteoporosis.

Ladies Listen Up!

Women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about 80% are women[i].

Preventing or delaying

Your bones need good nutrition and exercise. Talk with your doctor before starting a new workout routine. You can also do these things:

  • Walking- take a short walk around the block
  • Dancing- listen to your favorite music. Get up and move your body
  • Weight lifting- small weights can help improve bone mass. This could mean lifting a gallon of milk or other kitchen items.
  • Stop smoking
  • Cut down on alcohol
  • Make sure you’re getting recommended dietary supplements for Calcium and Vitamin D

Along with making some lifestyle changes, think about making your house safer from falls. This can involve:

  • Arrange your furniture so it’s easy to move around your living space.
  • Remove things that can make you trip. Make sure your carpets are securely attached to the floor. Avoid using small throw rugs, which can slip under your feet.
  • Improve the lighting in your home. Have handrails and lights put on all staircases. Place handles where needed in the bathroom.

How are you tested?

A painless bone density test[ii] is used to find a loss in bone strength and thickness, and to see if you have osteoporosis or are at risk of bone loss.

If you are over 50 years old, or had any fracture or record of broken bones in your family talk to your doctor about a bone density scan.

You may need a painless bone density test if:

  • You are a man or woman over age 50, a postmenopausal woman or are at risk of breaking a bone.
  • Your bone density is changing with age.
  • You have lost height, developed a stooped or hunched posture, or felt sudden back pain with no clear cause.
  • You have been taking glucocorticoid medications such as cortisone, prednisone, or dexamethasone for 2 months or longer or are taking other medications known to cause bone loss.

Keep in mind that all adults naturally lose bone mass as they age. If you have one or more risk factors for osteoporosis, talk with your doctor about prevention strategies that may be right for you.

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[ii] Coverage for a bone density test may vary based on your specific health plan. Talk with your doctor or login to Blue Access for Members for benefit information.

Originallypublished 8/3/2015; Revised 2017