Osteoporosis: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions related to osteoporosis.

Q: I’ve been allergic to milk since infancy. Do I have any hope of avoiding osteoporosis?

A: Milk and dairy products are the main sources of calcium in our diet. If you have a true allergy to milk, you must avoid all milk products. But it is common to have an intolerance to milk without a true allergy. In this case, products are available that can be added to milk to make it digestible. At any rate, you should simply supplement your diet withcalcium. Also, you should review your risk factors for osteoporosis and take steps to remove as many as possible.

Q: I’m an older man who has emphysema and has smoked most of my life, though I recently stopped. Do men really have to worry about getting osteoporosis?

A: So much attention has been given to women that osteoporosis may be overlooked in men. Hip fractures are just as limiting and dangerous in men as in women. Risk factors that are common in men who develop osteoporosis are chronic lung disease such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, as well as the medications often used to treat it. You can help by consuming proper amounts of calcium, exercising as allowed by your physician, and removing any other risk factors.

Q: I’m a 63-year-old woman who recently fractured my wrist playing golf. Should I have further tests to determine if I have osteoporosis?

A: A wrist fracture is one of the most common types in osteoporosis (in addition to hip and spine fractures). If your fracture happened with only mild injury, osteoporosis is the most likely problem. Your physician may be able to tell if your bones have osteoporosis from your wrist X-ray, but in many cases this is not possible. It would be wise for you to have a bone mineral density test to check for osteoporosis.

Q: My teenage daughter is constantly on the go, and I’m not sure she’s getting enough calcium in her diet. How can I be sure that she will be protected in her growing years?

A: Try to prepare balanced meals with calcium-rich foods, which will benefit the entire family. If maintaining 1,200 mg of calcium a day is still difficult, consider adding a calcium supplement for teenagers. Also, education of teenagers has been shown to be very effective. Help your teen find ways to be sure of calcium intake that can fit with her desire for weight control.

Q: I hate to exercise. The thought of long walks or playing tennis doesn’t appeal to me. Is there something else that I can do to help myself?

A: Many people do not have an exercise program or do not follow one regularly. But think about your daily activities. You might be able to incorporate a reasonable amount of exercise in your daily routine. For example, do you have stairs at work or at home? Walking and stair-climbing certainly counts as weight-bearing exercise. In parking lots, try parking at a further distance from your destination and walk. Even brief exercise is better than none at all.

Q: In order to keep track of the progression of my osteoporosis, my doctor wants me to have regular bone density exams. But aren’t X-rays risky?

A: The methods involved in osteoporosis screening tests used today are very safe. The exposure to radiation is very low and considered by most experts to be quite acceptable. And bone mineral density exams have high value in monitoring the progression of osteoporosis and the effectiveness of treatment.

Related Topics

Scroll to Top