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What is a Bone Density Test

What is a Bone Density Test
July 6, 2015

A Bone Density Test could spare you from unnecessary pain…
Did your parents or grandparents suffer hip fractures or regularly break bones? Chances are that you might go through the same pain, that’s if you do not take care of your bones… Having a Bone Density Test could determine how strong or brittle your bones are and whether you will need additional care to improve your bone density.

By having a Bone Density Test, you can find out whether you have osteoporosis or if you should be concerned about the strength of your bones. Some people also call it a bone mass measurement test. This test uses a machine to measure your bone density. It estimates the amount of bone in your hip, spine and sometimes other bones. Your test result will help your healthcare provider make recommendations to help you protect your bones.

There usually are no symptoms in the beginning stages of bone loss. But once your bones are weakened due to osteoporosis, your signs and symptoms will include:
• Back pain due to fractured or collapsed vertebrae
• Body length reduces over time
• A hunched posture
• Bones that fracturing much easier than they should be


When to get a Bone Density Test:

You may want to speak to your doctor about osteoporosis if you were unfortunate enough to go through early menopause, took corticosteroids for numerous months at a time, or if either of your parents had fractures in their hips.

If your bones are extremely brittle, you might fracture a rib simply by coughing!

Are you a postmenopausal woman or man age 50 and older? Have you recently broken a bone? If you answered “yes” to both questions, you should talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider about getting a bone density test if you’ve never had one.

What a Bone Density Test Can Do:

A bone density test tells you if you have normal bone density, low bone density (osteopenia) or osteoporosis. It is the only test that can diagnose osteoporosis. The lower your bone density is, the greater your risk of breaking bones. A this test can help you and your healthcare provider:

• learn if you have weak bones or osteoporosis before you break a bone
• predict your chance of breaking a bone in the future
• see if your bone density is improving, getting worse or staying the same
• find out how well an osteoporosis medicine is working
• let you know if you have osteoporosis after you break a bone

Unchangeable risks:

Some risk elements for osteoporosis are uncontrollable…
• Your gender. Women are at much higher risk to develop osteoporosis.
• Your Age. Your risk of osteoporosis increases with age.
• Your Race. People who are white or of Asian descent stand a greater chance of developing osteoporosis.
• Your Family history. If one of your parents or siblings has osteoporosis means that you have a greater risk, especially if your mother or father experienced a hip fracture.
• Your build & size. People with smaller than usual body frames tend to have minimal bone mass to begin with, making it easier to develop osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis occurs when bone mass is broken down faster than it is replenished, leaving your bones brittle and easily broken.

The Effects of Hormone levels on your bones

If your hormones are imbalanced, you are more likely to have osteoporosis, for example:

• Sex hormones. Reduced sex hormones tend to make bones weaker, that’s why reduced estrogen levels during menopause are highly likely to cause osteoporosis. Certain cancer treatments also cause a drop in estrogen. Testosterone levels in men gradually reduce with age. Certain prostate cancer treatments also reduce testosterone levels.
• Thyroid problems. If you have increased thyroid hormones in your system, you could experience increased bone loss, especially if your thyroid is over or under active.
• Other glands. Overactive parathyroid and adrenal glands have also been associated with Osteoporosis.


Dietary factors

There are also a few dietary factors that could increase the risk of osteoporosis:

• Low calcium intake. Constantly failing to incorporate the recommended amount of calcium in your diet.
• Eating disorders. As mentioned above, low calcium intake, regularly associated with anorexia, could lead to disruptions of menstrual cycles in women and reduces sex hormones in men which lead to weaker bones.
• Gastrointestinal surgery. Certain surgeries reduce your stomach size or it can shorten or bypass parts of your intestines, making it harder to absorb sufficient nutrients like calcium.

Steroids and other medications

Continued use of oral or injected corticosteroid medicines like prednisone and cortisone could interfere with the bone-rebuilding process. Preventative or combatting medications could also cause osteoporosis, like medication for the following:

• Gastric reflux
• Seizures
• Transplant rejection
• Cancer

Lifestyle choices

Examples of bad habits that increase risks for osteoporosis include:

• Sedentary lifestyle. Not having an active lifestyle and spending a lot of time sitting or lying down is conducive for developing osteoporosis. It has been proven that exercise that entail weight-bearing greatly reduces your risk. Even activities like dancing, walking, jumping and running are good for bone growth.
• Excessive alcohol consumption. Drinking more than two alcoholic drinks daily already increases your risk of developing osteoporosis.
• Tobacco use. Experts are not sure why yet, but it is proven that tobacco use also contributes to weakening bones.

If you or anyone you know show signs of brittle bones or a hunched appearance, you should visit Kiaat hospital to have a bone density test done as soon as possible.

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