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I went for a bone density test—or DEXA scan—this week. I’m extremely unhappy to admit that I’ve lost an inch of height! Although I’m hoping it is due to some posture issues brought on by an illness I experienced a few years ago, to be on the safe side, my doctor order the scan to check for (and hopefully rule out!) osteoporosis, and its precursor, osteopenia.
The scan was easy, painless and only took about ten minutes. Now comes the hard part: waiting for results. To prepare myself for whatever those results may be, I decided to do some research.
Lucky you: I’m going to share what I learned!
What exactly is osteoporosis?
The word osteoporosis simply means “porous bone.” Because bone is living tissue, it is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis happens when the body loses more bone than it builds. When this occurs, bones—which look something like a honeycomb when viewed under a microscope—develop larger empty spaces. As these empty spaces enlarge, the bones become more susceptible to breaking.
Who is at risk of developing osteoporosis?
What steps can be taken to prevent or reverse osteoporosis?
There are prescription drugs which are designed to halt the progression of osteoporosis, but their side-effects are daunting and the jury is still out on their long-term effectiveness. Though lifestyle and dietary changes require more effort and commitment than medication, they may yield more benefit in the long-run (to your bones and the rest of you!). If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis and your doctor suggests medication, please research the pros and cons for yourself and make your decision thoughtfully.
While I’m hoping my test results show that I don’t have bone weakening, I plan to keep these suggestions in mind. The most obvious one for me will be giving up flavored seltzers—I substituted these when I stopped drinking diet soda a few years ago, but it looks like it’s time to give these up as well. The other suggestion I need to take to heart is increasing my calcium supplement—and remembering to take it EVERY day.
And one more very important thing I’m telling myself: Don’t panic!
If my results aren’t what I’m hoping for, I’ll continue to research ways that other people have restored bone strength. I may not get my lost inch back, but I’ll do everything I can to prevent losing another. I’ll make today “Day One;” I’ll forgive myself for any mistakes that may have led to an unfavorable diagnosis and, armed with new wisdom, I’ll get started on a healthier tomorrow.
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