Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease because there are no symptoms but it can lead to very real problems. Millions of women have osteoporosis or something that can lead to it -- low bone mass. Now, there's an easy way to see if you're at risk.
Diane Tichota knew the drill when she went in for her latest DEXA scan. By looking at her spine and hips, doctors get a better sense of the architecture of her bones. That's key because Diane has low bone mass.
"I was kind of worried," she said. But she was not altogether surprised. Her mom, Carol Francl, has osteoporosis.
Carol says, "My mom never had anything. Of course in those days it was no big deal. I don't know. I just don't know why it's happening."
Alegent Health Ob/Gyn, Dr. John Cote', says for a variety of reasons, after age 30, all women start to lose bone density. The rate accelerates after menopause.
There are also risk factors: smoking, drinking, lack of exercise, not getting enough Vitamin D and calcium, being very thin, and, Dr. Cote' says, "with a family history, we know you're at risk."
Results from a DEXA scan, a T-score, factor into a plan of action.
Dr. Cote' says, "We have to look at spine and hips to give us a T-score to give us more information to find out, are you someone who should be treated because you have osteoporosis or osteopenia? Or using your risk factors, are you someone who should look at prevention because you're at risk and we want to try and prevent a problem."
For Diane, that means managing her condition with medicine and an infusion and getting DEXA scans.
She says, "With bone loss, you don't get it back. And I really don't want my 50s, 60s, 70s and have a broken hip. I want to take care of it now."
Doctor Cote' says all women 65 and older should have a DEXA scan. Women with risk factors should consider having one earlier.
Something else you can do is to make sure that you are getting enough Vitamin D and calcium.