Osteoporosis is not something you should ignore. Unfortunately, many people wait until they are in their 50s to even consider their risk factors. But to have the best chance of preventing osteoporosis symptoms, you should consider taking steps years ahead of time.
For example, many doctors advise getting an adequate amount of calcium beginning in childhood to fight this disease.
So What? Is Osteoporosis Really That Big of a Deal?
The truth is that osteoporosis is an insidious illness, meaning it sneaks up on you and you don’t even realize it. At this very moment, your bones may be slowly becoming weak and brittle. It’s a very big deal! Why? There are often no osteoporosis symptoms until a fracture occurs and by that time – reversing bone loss can be difficult.
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As many as one in 3 women over the age of 50 worldwide have the disease. In fact, it is estimated that by the year 2020, half of all Americans over the age of 50 are expected to have low bone density, or osteoporosis. And out of those 50 or older patients who have a hip fracture, one in four die in the year following their fractures!
The Cost of Osteoporosis in America
The direct and indirect medical costs of osteoporosis exceed $20 billion per year as the disease can be blamed for almost 1 million hip and back fractures in the U.S. annually. Preventing and reversing osteoporosis symptoms could have both a major impact on quality of life and reduce the cost of U.S. medical care.
Bone Density Test
The “gold standard” test for diagnosing osteoporosis is the DEXA scan (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry), also called bone density scan. This test measures bone density in the spine, hip, or wrist, which are the most common locations for bone fractures. This test will produce a T-score which is a comparison of a person’s bone density with that of a healthy 30-year-old of the same sex. Lower scores (more negative) mean lower bone density:
- Bone density scan T-score of -2.5 or lower qualifies as osteoporosis.
- Bone density scan T-score of -1.0 to -2.5 signifies osteopenia, meaning below-normal bone density without full osteoporosis. This stage of bone loss is the precursor to osteoporosis unless steps are taken to reverse the trend of bone loss.
Multiplying the T-score by 10% gives a rough estimate of how much bone density has been lost. For example, if your DEXA scan reading is -2.7, you have a 27% reduction in bone density. The DEXA scan is recommended for all women over 65. A bone density scan should also be measured in women between 50 and 65 who are at high risk.
Be sure to ask your doctor for a copy of your DEXA scan results. You paid for it and you will need that score to calculate your absolute fracture risk using the FRAX tool, which is found in our comprehensive guide, Osteoporosis Relief: Natural Remedies for Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment. This guide also discusses other bone density test methods that you may not be aware of. This is very important because many doctors admit that the DEXA scan is not always a perfect predictor for bone health or fracture risk. In fact, determining your risk factors (below) can be just as crucial.
Are You At Risk for Osteoporosis?
So if you are at increased risk, you need to take steps now to fight this disease. Start down downloading our free report, Osteoporosis Guidelines: Natural Remedies for Osteoporosis Symptoms.
 National Osteoporosis Foundation.