5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Osteoporosis
Getting a Head Start on Prevention
If you are a woman in your 30s or 40s, you may not have talked in-depth with your doctor about osteoporosis. However, it is never too early to get the conversation started. Take this list of questions with you to your next doctor’s appointment to stay one step ahead.
- What Are My Risk Factors for Osteoporosis? Though age and gender are the leading risk factors for the bone condition (the risk is highest for women who have reached menopause), there are many other factors that can influence your risk for osteoporosis.
Read our Lowering Your Risk for Osteoporosis article for more information about the genetic and lifestyle factors for osteoporosis and fractures. Then, ask your doctor to help you determine a plan of action for tackling controllable factors in the short- and long-term.
- When Should I Have My Bone Density Tested? Bone density tests (for example, a procedure called a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry test) can measure your bone mass and determine if it is low, even before you develop osteoporosis.
It is recommended that women over the age of 65, postmenopausal women below the age of 65 with other osteoporosis risk factors, men over the age of 70, and others with a heightened risk for osteoporosis get a bone density test.1 Depending on the results of your initial test, your doctor will advise you about when you should be tested again.
- What Kinds of Osteoporosis Prevention Exercises Are Safe for Me? Physical activity has been linked with improved bone mineral density which means that your bones are stronger and less prone to osteoporosis.
A variety of weight-bearing and strength-training exercises can help you build up your bones (read our Exercise Tips to Prevent Osteoporosis article). Make sure to consult your physician before picking up a new fitness regimen since it is possible to do more harm to your bones than good if you exercise incorrectly.
- Am I Taking Any Medications That Can Cause Bone Loss? Some medications can actually lead to bone loss, such as corticosteroids. This is particularly important if the medications are taken in high doses for an extended period of time.
Ask your doctor to explain the risks and benefits of your medications and any bone-related side effects. If you must take medications that cause bone loss, be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet to help protect your bones.
- What Are Some Resources to Help Me Quit Drinking or Smoking? Chronic excessive alcohol use and smoking have been found to increase your risk for osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about techniques for quitting to help you reduce your risk of developing bone problems.
Making your bone health a priority during your healthcare visits before you have osteoporosis can be helpful in preventing the condition.
- Having a Bone Density Test. National Osteoporosis Foundation Web site. http://www.nof.org/articles/743. Accessed September 18, 2012.
- Detecting Osteoporosis: Medications That May Cause Bone Loss. National Osteoporosis Foundation Web site. http://www.nof.org/aboutosteoporosis/detectingosteoporosis/medicineboneloss Accessed September 5, 2012.
- How Often Do Women Need a Bone Density Test? AARP Web site. http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-02-2012/bone-density-tests.html. Updated February 29, 2012. Accessed September 18, 2012.