Bones are the strongest part of your body. In addition to giving support and protection to your vital organs, you wouldn’t even be able to move without them. While strong bones help us stay healthy and active, low bone density can lead to pain, injury and a host of major health problems. Very low bone density, known as osteoporosis, can drastically affect your health and lifestyle. Since symptoms of osteoporosis don’t appear until massive amounts of bone minerals have already been lost, it’s important to be watchful. How can you determine if your bone density should be a concern?
Causes of low bone density
Though anyone could experience bone density loss during their lifetime, there are a few major risk factors that affect your odds of losing bone density – or even developing osteoporosis.
- Age. Throughout childhood and young adulthood, bones gradually increase in size and density. By about age 30, however, the process begins to reverse. Even then, the process is usually slow. For the most part, symptoms are not seen in those under 50 years of age.
- Sex. Women are at much higher risk of developing dangerously low bone density than men are. In fact, though only 1 in 5 men will suffer a bone fracture due to low bone density, up to 1 in 3 women will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
- Race. Though osteoporosis and low bone density can affect anyone, Caucasians appear to be especially at risk.
- Hormonal changes. Since bone density is significantly affected by your body’s hormones, changes that upset your hormonal balance can be damaging to your bone structure. Menopause is a major risk factor, as is having one or both ovaries removed. In addition, women who started their period at a very young age are at higher risk.
- Diet and lifestyle. To build strong bones (or slow their decay), you need a diet that is high in calcium. Also, your body knows when your bones are being used. A sedentary lifestyle will make your bones become weak. In contrast, they respond to exercise by growing stronger. The more you move, the stronger they get!
- Previous fractures. Breaking a bone doesn’t cause you to lose bone density, but it could indicate the process has already started. If you’re over 50 and recently broke a bone, consider getting a bone density scan.
- Family history. Studies indicate that genetics play a powerful role in bone density. If a close family member has suffered from osteoporosis, it would be best to get your bone density checked more regularly.
Bone density scans are just one of the tests we offer at Southtowns Radiology. Our team of professionals promises you the most accurate results possible on any screening you choose to perform at one of our three locations around Buffalo, New York. Feel free to contact us with any questions; you can also use our online form to schedule an appointment.