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Osteoporosis is a disease that causes weak, thinning bones. This leaves the bones at greater risk of breaking. The bones most often affected are the hips, spine, and wrists.
The exact cause for osteoporosis is unknown. But a number of factors contribute to the disease including:
Aging. Bones become less dense and weaker with age.
Race. White and Asian women are most at risk. But, all races may get the disease.
Body weight. People who weigh less and have less muscle are more at risk for this condition.
Lifestyle factors. Lack of physical activity, caffeine use, excessive alcohol use, smoking, dietary calcium, and vitamin D deficiency may all increase your risk.
Certain medicines. Some medicines may increase your risk.
Family history. Having a family history of bone disease may increase your risk.
How is osteoporosis diagnosed? Your healthcare provider will review your personal and family medical history and do a physical exam. Other tests include:
Bone density test (bone densitometry). Measurement of the mass of bone in relation to its volume to find the risk of getting osteoporosis.
Blood tests. These tests are done to measure calcium and potassium levels.
FRAX score. A score given to estimate the risk of a fracture within 10 years. The score uses the results of a bone density test as well as other factors.
X-rays. This test uses electromagnetic energy beams to make images of tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
Some of the ways to treat osteoporosis are also ways to prevent it. They include:
Maintaining a proper body weight.
Increase walking and other weight-bearing exercises.
Cut down on caffeine and alcohol.
Get enough calcium through diet and supplements, including Vitamin D.
Prevent falls in older adults by installing hand railings, or assistive devices in the bathroom or shower.
Ask your healthcare provider about medicines that may help.