and Dexa Scan
Is osteoporosis screening important? Is it for you? The answer is
probably a resounding YES!
Osteoporosis means porous or weak bones. It affects a great many people
as they age, especially women, however men are susceptible as
well. Osteoporosis can cause fractures, especially if left
untreated. Fractures, especially hip fractures, have been shown to be a
contributing cause of morbidity and mortality by approximately 20
percent within the one-year period following a hip fracture.
Who is at increased
risk for osteoporosis?
- Females more than males
- Cigarette smokers
- Postmenopausal women
- Anyone with a chronic lung disease
- Those with thyroid disorders
- Those with chronic kidney or liver
- Any one that uses medications such
Steroids, oral, inhaled, IV, etc.
- Excess alcohol use
- Insufficient calcium and vitamin D
- Those with fair complexions
- Those who are extremely slender,
less than 125 pounds
- Family history of a parent or
sibling with osteoporosis
How is it diagnosed?
Osteoporosis rarely shows up on routine
x-rays until approximately 40 percent bone loss has occurred. The most
valuable tool today for diagnosing osteoporosis is a Dexa scan. Dexa
scan is the term used for “Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry”. It is a
simple, fast and safe way to determine the presence and or risk of
developing osteoporosis. Many people are not aware of the need for
routine screening until it is too late. Men, as well as women, should
ask their physicians to do a baseline study, especially if you fall into
any of the categories listed above. Age is not the only factor to take
into consideration; osteoporosis can affect the youngest among us,
especially those of us using steroid medications.
If you have been diagnosed as having
osteoporosis, osteopenia (early bone loss) or at risk, all is not
lost. There are options available now that were not present years ago.
General suggestions include:
- Lifestyle changes, including
smoking cessation and exercise.
- Adequate calcium intake, including
dietary intake. Consult your personal medical physician for his or
her recommendations for your particular needs.
- Take appropriate precautions in
and around your home to help prevent falls.
There are a great many prescription
medications on the market today to help to slow down, stop and in some
cases even reverse the bone loss associated with osteoporosis. Your
physician may choose to start you on one of the many medications
Examples of some of the more common
medications, include, but is not limited to, Fosamax, Evista, Didronel,
Actonel, all in pill form. Another medication available for those that
have difficulty with the oral versions is a hormone called “calcitonin”. It
is available as an injection and also as a nasal spray called Miacalcin. Occasionally
those using the oral forms of medication have problems with severe
heartburn or reflux disease. Therefore, it is important to follow the
instructions and information given by your physician and pharmacist
regarding the correct use of these medications.
Some common guidelines are to take these
medications an empty stomach, remain upright for 30 to 60 minutes after
taking and before eating. Take with water only, as other fluids may
inhibit the medications ability to properly get into the blood stream.
Use of these medications does not replace the need for good dietary
sources of calcium and vitamin D.
More medications are being developed all
the time to aid in osteoporosis treatment.
Those mentioned here are but
a few, and we neither suggest nor endorse any of them individually. Please
discuss the need for screening Dexa scans, supplements and medications
with your own personal physician.
Compiled by COPD-International
Community Members from a variety of sources
deemed fairly accurate.