If you’re diagnosed with osteoporosis, here are important questions to ask your doctor…

How serious is my osteoporosis? Osteoporosis itself is “silent”—the loss of bone itself doesn’t cause any pain. Ask your doctor how severe your bone loss is based on the results of your DEXA screening test, which measures your “T-score” for bone density.

What are the best ways for me to rebuild and protect my bones? Based on your individual health, physical abilities, family history and other factors, your doctor should thoroughly discuss with you a plan for your diet, exercise, nutritional supplements and possibly medication.

Will I need to take medication? Medication may be recommended if your doctor thinks your T-score is too low (the typical threshold for medication is -2.5) or if your risk for fracture for any other reason is too high.

How effective might medication be in treating my osteoporosis?

Ask about Teriparatide (Forteo), a drug which is known to slightly reverse osteoporosis, and other common treatments such as estrogen and bisphosphonates, which can slow the rate of bone loss.

How would the benefits of medication stack up against the risks? The side effects of medication for osteoporosis vary by type of drug and by person. For example, estrogen is safe for most women but not for all. Ask about medication risks in your case considering your health and family history.

What should I do about calcium and other nutrients? Calcium is not the only crucial nutrient for bones—vitamin D, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K are all vital as well. Ask about the best food sources and supplements for you.

Should I keep taking the supplements I’ve been taking? This important question is often missed. Now that you have osteoporosis, your doctor should evaluate your personal supplement regimen from square one—so be sure to discuss everything you take.

Is there anything I should avoid? Caffeine inhibits calcium absorption, and alcohol has been shown to reduce bone density. However, based on your personal health and history, it may be all right for you to consume these in moderation.

Given my level of osteoporosis, what kinds of exercise are recommended for me, and how much? There is no question that a regular exercise regimen is important for preserving and protecting bones. Ask about a smart level of weight bearing exercise, strength training, low impact aerobics, and possibly yoga for you.

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