As I sat in the exam room, waiting for my well-woman check-up, I knew that dreaded conversation was coming. Now that I had turned 50, my doctor was going to recommend I get a colonoscopy, and as expected, at the end of my exam she handed me an order for my routine blood work and then brought it up. After we finished discussing the colonoscopy, she casually asked if I had ever had a bone density test done. I said “no,” so she said it would be a good idea to have one done and handed me an order for one. I never really gave it a second thought. I was more focused on the colonoscopy.
The following day I had my bone density test done, that was an easy one. You just lay on a table and they take a couple of scans. It’s quick and easy, similar to an x-ray or CT scan. A couple of days later, I got a call from my doctor and to my shock, she told me I was in the beginning stage of osteoporosis. I couldn’t believe it. Osteoporosis is an old person’s disease. I am a young 50-year-old. I am thin and healthy, how could this have happen? Come to find out, I had several major risk factors I wasn’t even aware of.
My Risk Factors:
- Fair skin
- Family history
- Post menopause
- Went into menopause at an early age – in my late 30’s
- Certain medications
Had I been more educated about osteoporosis and known I had all of these risk factors, I would have started working at a much younger age to prevent the disease. The good news is that my doctor says I can rebuild by bone strength. I now am aggressively fighting this disease by taking 1500 mg of calcium and vitamin D a day as well as the once a week medication Alendronate. I also make sure I get plenty of weight-baring exercise.
It is so important to know your risk factors, not so you are paranoid but so you can be prepared. If you know you are at high risk for osteoporosis you can start early focusing on prevention rather than repairing after the fact. Early testing and monitoring is vital for people at high risk. Hopefully for me, next year when I re-do my bone density test it will show improvement.
(Resources: Mayoclinci.org, WebMD, bhrt-resource.com)