WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Bone densitometry is a scan (test) that measures your bone density (thickness). Bone densitometry is also called a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. DXA scans are normally done on your hip, spine, or forearm (lower arm). A DXA scan can also be done of your entire body. DXA scans use a radiation beam to take pictures of your bones. The pictures show minerals, such as calcium, inside your bones that help keep them strong. The DXA scan shows if your bones have lost needed minerals, causing them to become weak. A DXA scan may be done to check for osteoporosis, bone fractures (breaks), or your risk for bone fractures. Osteoporosis is a condition that occurs when you lose bone density and bone tissue.
- Healthy women age 65 or older, and healthy men age 70 or older, should have a DXA scan. Younger women and men who are at high risk for bone loss should also have a DXA scan. The risk for bone loss increases if you need to take certain medicines for long periods of time. These medicines include steroids and certain male hormone (body chemical) therapies. Women who are entering, or at menopause, and have low levels of estrogen are at risk for bone loss. Menopause occurs when a woman no longer gets her monthly period. Medical conditions, such as diabetes mellitus (high blood sugar) and rheumatoid arthritis (joint swelling), also increase your risk. Having a DXA scan can help you and your caregiver learn if you have bone loss. If you have bone loss, you and your caregiver can decide the best treatment for you.
Take your medicine as directed.
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
Do not smoke:
Smoking can harm your bones and increase your risk for bone fractures. Smoking also harms the heart, lungs, and the blood. You are more likely to have a heart attack, lung disease, and cancer if you smoke. You will help yourself and those around you by not smoking. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.
Get enough calcium and vitamin D:
Choose foods high in calcium and vitamin D, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, salmon, tofu, almonds, and beans. This will help keep your bones strong, and decrease bone loss. You can also increase the vitamin D in your body by spending short periods of time in the sun. Make sure you wear sunscreen to protect your skin while in the sun. Your caregiver may also suggest you take calcium and vitamin D supplements. Ask your caregiver how much, and how often, you should take these supplements.
Get enough exercise:
Exercise three times each week for 30 minutes. Your caregiver may suggest weight-bearing exercises, such as walking. You can also lift weights, swim, or ride a bike. Exercise can help increase your bone density and decrease your risk for fractures. Talk with your caregiver before starting an exercise program. Together you can plan the best exercise program for you.
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Drinking too much alcohol, too often, can harm your bones. Drinking too much can also damage your brain, heart, and liver. Women should limit alcohol to one drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to two drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, or five ounces of wine. One and one-half ounces of liquor, such as whiskey, is one drink of alcohol. Talk with your caregiver if you drink too much alcohol, too often, and need help to stop.
Limit the amount of caffeine in your diet. Too much caffeine can harm your bones. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and soft drinks.
Keep your home safe. Have enough light so you can see everything clearly. Remove throw rugs, or secure them to the floor. You can also install grab bars near your bathtub and toilet. Ask your caregiver for more information about preventing falls in your home.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have questions or concerns about your DXA scan, condition, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You fall and think you may have a bone fracture.
- Your condition, for which you had the DXA scan, or symptoms, such as pain, suddenly get worse.
© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of the Blausen Databases or Truven Health Analytics.
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
Learn more about Bone Densitometry (Aftercare Instructions)
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