Osteoporosis - Symptoms, Risk & Treatment - Myths and Facts

Myth: Only women are affected by osteoporosis.

Fact:

  • Men get osteoporosis, too.
  • Women naturally have smaller, thinner bones than men, so they are at higher risk.
  • 20% of those affected by osteoporosis are men. One in every four men and one in every two women over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.

Myth: If I drink milk and take calcium supplements, I won't develop osteoporosis.

Fact:

  • Getting enough calcium is important but that alone is not enough to prevent osteoporosis. An inactive lifestyle, excessive alcohol, tobacco intake and smoking all lead to osteoporosis.

Myth: Osteoporosis is a disease of the elderly. Only older people need to worry about it.

Fact:

  • Osteoporosis is not a natural part of aging.
  • Prevention of osteoporosis should begin during your youth and young adult life.
  • Make these steps a part of your life: a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D; weight-bearing exercise; a healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol intake and a proper exposure to sunlight to get right amount of vitamin D.
  • Get your bone density testing done and take proper medications for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Myth: There are no particular risk factors for osteoporosis other than age and being female.

Fact:

  • Age is a major risk factor, especially for those over 65. But those with the following characteristics also are at risk: fair skin; small bone structure; early menopause or postmenopausal; family history of osteoporosis; low body weight; low-calcium diet; inactive lifestyle; excessive alcohol intake; tobacco use; eating disorders; use of certain medications such as steroids or anticonvulsants.
  • Talk to your health-care provider about your personal risk for osteoporosis.

Myth: You can't tell if you have osteoporosis unless you fall and break a bone.

Fact:

  • A bone density test can give your health-care provider important information about the strength of your bones and your risk for fracturing a bone in the future.
  • The bone densitometer uses small amounts of X-ray to measure the amount of bone mineral and this relates directly to bone strength.

Myth: A bone density test is painful and complicated.

Fact:

  • This is a simple and comfortable exam.
  • A bone densitometer looks like a large, padded exam table and measures bone density by using a small amount of radiation.
  • You lie on your back, and the technologist positions your arms and legs. The test is painless and takes less than 10 minutes.
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