Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website.
What You Should Know About Osteoporosis
Am Fam Physician. 2001 Mar 1;63(5):908.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is weak bones.
Who gets osteoporosis?
Many more women get osteoporosis than men. Women who have low estrogen levels are especially at risk. You may have low estrogen levels:
If you've had surgery to remove your female organs
If your menstrual cycles have stopped early (before age 45)
Elderly men and men who take certain medicines can also get osteoporosis.
What are the effects of osteoporosis?
Your bones will break easily after even a minor fall.
How does my doctor know I have osteoporosis?
Sometimes osteoporisis is found on x-rays. Tests can measure your bone mineral density.
What are the risk factors for osteoporosis?
Menopause before age 45
Fair skin (white or Asian)
Sedentary lifestyle (immobile because of illness or wheelchair-bound)
Chronic steroid use
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
A family member had osteoporosis
How is osteoporosis treated?
Treatment can keep osteoporosis from getting worse and can sometimes increase bone strength
Getting calcium (1,500 mg daily) and vitamin D (400 IU daily) in your diet or through supplements is important. Also, your doctor may provide the following treatments:
Estrogen replacement therapy
Selective estrogen receptor modulators
How is osteoporosis prevented?
It is best to prevent osteoporisis in the first place. It is harder to build bone than it is to keep from losing it.
Get regular weight-bearing exercise (such as walking or jogging)
Take calcium and vitamin D
Keep a healthy estrogen level (in women)
Eat a balanced diet
Don't use tobacco and alcohol
Only take steroids if your doctor prescribes them
This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.
Copyright © 2001 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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