What is osteoporosis?

• Osteoporosis is a disease that makes your bones weak. People with the

disease can break their bones too easily. For instance, people with

osteoporosis sometimes break a bone after falling down at home.

• Breaking a bone can be serious, especially if the bone is in the hip. People

who break a hip sometimes lose the ability to walk on their own. Many of

them need care in a nursing home. That's why it is so important to avoid

breaking a bone in the first place.

How do I know if I have osteoporosis?

• Osteoporosis does not cause symptoms until you break a bone. But your

doctor or nurse can have you tested for it. The best test is a bone density test

called the "DXA test." It is a special kind of X-ray.

• Experts recommend bone density testing for females older than 65. That is

because people in this group have the highest risk of osteoporosis. Still, other

people should sometimes be tested, too. Ask your doctor or nurse if you

should be tested.

• Some people learn that they have osteoporosis because they break a bone

during a fall or a mild impact. This is called a "fragility fracture," because

people with healthy bones should not break a bone that easily. People who

have fragility fractures are at high risk of having other bones break.

What can I do to keep my bones as healthy as possible?

• You can:

o Eat foods with a lot of calcium, such as milk, yogurt, and green leafy


o Eat foods with a lot of vitamin D, such as milk that has vitamin D

added, and fish from the ocean

o Take calcium and vitamin D pills (if you do not get enough from the

food that you eat)

o Be active for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week

o Avoid smoking

o Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to 1 to 2 drinks a day at most .

What else can I do to avoid fractures?

• It sounds simple, but you can prevent a lot

of fractures by reducing the chances of a

fall. To do that:

o Make sure all your rugs have a no-

slip backing to keep them in place

o Tuck away any electrical cords, so

they are not in your way

o Light all walkways well

o Watch out for slippery floors

o Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes with

rubber soles

o Have your eyes checked

o Ask your doctor or nurse to check whether any of your medicines might

make you dizzy or increase your risk of falling .

Can osteoporosis be treated?

• Yes, there are a few medicines to treat osteoporosis. These medicines can

reduce the chances that you will break a bone.

• Doctors and nurses usually suggest trying medicines called bisphosphonates

first. If those medicines do not do enough or if they cause side effects that

you cannot stand, there are other medicines to try.

How will I know the treatment is working?

• Doctors and nurses often order bone density tests to check if osteoporosis

medicines are working. These are the same tests they use to find osteoporosis

in the first place. Sometimes a blood or urine test is also needed.

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