Osteoporosis, a disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone or makes too much, is common, serious, and costly. Millions of Americans are affected by osteoporosis; 80% of them are women.
Women are more likely to get osteoporosis because they tend to have smaller, thinner bones than men. And Estrogen, which protects your bones, sharply decreases when women reach menopause.
Does this mean you’re at risk? It’s very possible. How can you be sure? That’s easy: a simple, noninvasive DEXA scan can measure your bone mineral density and check for bone loss.
What It Is
A Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry scan uses a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body, usually your spine and hips and sometimes the Radius in your forearm.
How It Works
Your bone density is determined by how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. The higher your bone mineral content, the denser (and stronger) your bones are.
The scanner produces two X-ray beams, one is high energy and one is low energy, and the machine measures the amount of X-rays that pass through your bones from each beam. Your bone density is measured based on the difference between the two beams. For the results of your scan you’ll receive a T-score. This shows how much higher or lower your bone density is than that of a healthy 30-year-old, the age at which bones are at their strongest. You may also receive a Z-score, which compares your bone density to a normal score of a person your same age and body size.
When To Get Tested
You should consider a bone density test if:
- You experience irregular or infrequent periods
- You’ve had your ovaries removed
- You’re going/have gone through menopause
- You’ve received a transplant
- You experience height loss – ½ inch or more in a year
- You break a bone after age 50
- You’re over the age of 65
Osteoporosis is sneaky – you certainly can’t feel your bones weakening! A DEXA scan for bone density will show you just how strong your bones really are.