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Tests and Treatments for Osteoporosis

As we age, we tend to lose bone density, which usually begins after age 30. The reason behind this is the body’s decreased production of collagen and calcium phosphate. But while bone density loss is a normal part of aging, osteoporosis isn’t.

Not everyone develops osteoporosis. However, women are particularly predisposed to a higher risk because of their thinner bones. Rapid bone loss is also manifest after menopause. It is estimated that 80 percent of Americans suffering from this bone disorder are women.

In addition to age and gender, ethnicity is a contributing factor for osteoporosis. Whites and Asians have a higher risk compared to Hispanics and blacks.

Lifestyle factors that contribute to a higher risk of osteoporosis include tobacco smoking, leading a sedentary lifestyle, vitamin D and calcium deficiency, eating disorders and alcohol abuse. The use of corticosteroids can also increase the risk of bone loss.

To determine the likelihood of osteoporosis, a bone density scan is recommended for patients aged 50 and suffering a broken bone. Apart from fracture, men and women need to undergo this procedure as they reach the ages of 70 and 65, respectively.

Men with higher osteoporosis risk should have the test upon reaching age 50; so do women who are in menopause or have the risk factors.

To improve bone density, doctors may prescribe a biophosphonate to slow down bone loss and reduce the risk of fracture. The use of this bone-boosting drug, however, should be regulated because it can cause gastrointestinal problems when taken by mouth. In its injectable form, the medication can contribute to jaw bone deterioration.

Women undergoing or past menopause may be prescribed estrogen agents. Hormone replacement treatment, however, is used less often due to concerns that it can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

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