Getting a bone density scan is an important way to evaluate the health of your bones. If you have osteoporosis or are at risk for it, a scan can help you monitor the state of your bone health and the efficacy of any treatment courses your doctor has prescribed.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommend bone density scans for all women over the age of 65. As for men, there isn’t as clear a consensus, but the the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends the scan for men over 70. In general, the scan is thought unnecessary for premenopausal women; postmenopausal women under 65 are recommended to get a scan if they have certain osteoporosis risk factors, such as a current smoking habit, a history of fractures as an adult, or a time in their life when they took oral steroids for more than three months.
Regular oral steroid use? Can a medication you’ve taken for some prolonged period of time, whether months or years, affect your risk of osteoporosis?
A recent article published online through CBS Pittsburgh points out the fact that some people develop osteoporosis in their 40s and 50s. Younger people with abnormally low bone density are generally at a lower risk of fracture and other health problems than older people with poor bone density; but it’s still alarming to consider how serious bone density loss can hit you earlier in your life. Some of the risk factors doctors point to for sped-up bone density loss in younger people are excessive alcohol intake, Vitamin D deficiency, certain illnesses and – it’s important to note – protracted use of certain kinds of medications.
These include steroids (corticosteroids) taken orally, aromatase inhibitors (a type of breast cancer drug), too-high doses of thyroid hormone replacement, and certain antiseizure meds. There’s also some evidence of the link between bone density loss and fracture and long-term use of certain kinds of antidepressants, blood thinners, heartburn meds and pain relievers. Sometimes, the risk a drug poses comes from the fact that it can cause you to be dizzy, which increases the chances that you’ll fall and sustain a fracture.
Your medication use and its link to your bone health is definitely something you should discuss with your doctor. Your use of these medications doesn’t mean that you automatically need to get a bone density scan, but it may be something to look into especially if you are postmenopausal or middle-aged. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about bone density scans and whether they may be right for you.