Dr. Pauline Camacho, director of the Loyola University Health System Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease Center, encourages patients to approach their doctors with the following questions:
If you have not been diagnosed with osteoporosis:
- Do I need a bone density test (also known as a DEXA scan)? Necessity differs based on sex, timing of menopause, occurrence of fractures and other factors.
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis:
- How much calcium and vitamin D should I get each day?
- What kind of exercises should I be doing?
- I have osteopenia (a possible precursor to osteoporosis). Does this condition always require drugs?
- I have osteoporosis. How long should I stay on the drugs prescribed? Ask whether a drug holiday (a brief break from prescribed daily medications) may eventually be required.
- Are there certain diseases that can look like osteoporosis that we should consider? A disease called osteomalacia, which entails softening of the bones, looks like osteoporosis but should not be treated with osteoporosis drugs.
Originally Printed in Chicago Health Spring 2010.
Erin O’Donnell is a freelance health and science writer, parent, and graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Walks by Lake Michigan make her happy.