Osteoporosis is a silent disease. Because osteoporosis develops over the years, a person may not be aware they have it until there is a broken bone, loss of height, or noticeable hump in the upper back.
Other symptoms of osteoporosis are:
- Tooth loss. This may be a sign that osteoporosis has affected the jawbone.
- Back pain. A fracture or a collapsed vertebra in the spine may mean you have developed spinal osteoporosis.
It is important to know the risk factors for this disease. They include:
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Early menopause
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Having inflammatory arthritis or other inflammatory disease
- Taking certain medications, such as corticosteroids
During and after menopause, when estrogen (hormone) levels drop, women lose bone mass faster. About 5 to 10 years after menopause starts, women can lose up to one-third of their bone mass. Men also lose bone mass as they age, but women tend to lose it faster. Osteoporosis is the main cause of bone fractures in postmenopausal women and the elderly.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends an initial bone-density test at age 65, or age 60 if you are taking corticosteroids. However, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, you should have a baseline test when first diagnosed with RA.