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Osteopenia

I began monitoring my bone density three years ago.  I get free scans because I work in a hospital.

My first bone density scan was fine, I was still in the normal range--that was before I got pregnant.  After I gave birth to my son in 2008, I was scanned again and I was surprised of the result--I was osteopenic.  Just last week, I had my bone density scanned again and I am still osteopenic.  I guess I have to take extra efforts in avoiding what needs to be avoided and doing what needs to be done to make my bones healthy again.

Osteopenia is having bone mineral density that is lower than the normal range.  A score above -1 is considered normal, a score between -1 to -2.5 is considered osteopenic, and a score below -2.5 is considered osteoporotic.

Bones become naturally thinner as we age but having osteopenia means greater risk of having osteoporosis.  According to studies, women are more likely to have osteopenia and osteoporosis because women have a low peak bone mineral density and hormones speed up loss of bone mass during menopause.  For both men and women, here are the risk factors:

* Eating disorders or metabolism problems that do not allow the body to fully absorb vitamins and minerals
* Chemoterapy or steroid containing medicines
* Exposure to radiation
* Having family history of osteoporosis
* Being Caucasian or Asian
* Being thin
* Limited physical activity
* Excessive drinking of caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages
* Smoking
* Having a diet of little calcium content or vitamin D


Osteopenia has no symptoms but it can be diagnosed using bone density scanners.  

The result  looks like this:


The doctor will interpret the result of the scan and will advise the patient of the things needed to prevent further bone density loss.  In general, even without the signs of being osteopenic, doctors advise the following:

* Balanced diet
* Regular exercise
* Stop smoking
* Regulation of caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages
* Regular bone density scanning

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