If you take
corticosteroids longer than 6 months for asthma or
other conditions, you may be at greater risk for steroid-induced osteoporosis. If you begin to have
bone loss, you may need to take osteoporosis medicines, such as
bisphosphonates, while you are taking steroids.
In some cases,
hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or
estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is given to women
to slow bone loss from osteoporosis. But hormone therapy can also increase the
risk of other conditions, including
breast cancer. Many experts recommend that long-term
hormone replacement therapy only be considered for women with a significant
risk of osteoporosis that outweighs the risks of taking HRT or ERT.
After you have been diagnosed
with bone loss, whether it is mild or severe, you will need to have regular
follow-up tests to monitor the disease.
Osteoporosis is a progressive disease: both men and
women lose a little bit of bone each year after age 30.8 It is never too late to build and then maintain healthy
habits that can slow the progression of the disease.
- Eat a nutritious diet and be sure you are getting adequate
amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Both are needed for building healthy,
Osteoporosis: Taking Calcium and Vitamin D
regular exercise. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, stair
climbing, dancing, or lifting weights, keep bones healthy by working the
muscles and bones against gravity.
When you have osteoporosis, it is especially important
to protect yourself from falling. When bones lose mass and become more brittle,
they lose strength and break more easily. Women of European and Asian ancestry
are more likely to have osteoporosis than those with African ancestry. To reduce your chances of breaking
steps to prevent falls, such as having your vision and hearing checked
regularly and wearing slippers or shoes with a nonskid sole. Exercises that
improve balance and coordination, such as
tai chi, can also reduce your risk of falling.
If your tests
show continuing bone loss, your doctor likely will recommend that you take
medicine to increase bone density and decrease your risk of spine and hip
fractures. These medicines include
bisphosphonates, such as risedronate (Actonel) or
alendronate (Fosamax). It's important to get enough calcium and vitamin D and take prescribed medicines for osteoporosis. For more information about
taking bisphosphonates, see:
Osteoporosis: Should I Take Bisphosphonate Medicines?
Calcitonin may be prescribed for women who are more
than 5 years beyond menopause and who cannot take bisphosphonate medicines, or
for men who are not receiving testosterone treatment.
may be prescribed for women, especially if you are 55 to 65 years old. Raloxifene can
cause hot flashes. So it is not often used in early menopause (45 to 55 years)
when hot flashes are frequent.