Download 11) treatment of osteoporosis What is osteoporosis? — Osteoporosis

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11) treatment of osteoporosis
What is osteoporosis? — Osteoporosis is a disease that makes your bones weak. People with the disease can
break their bones too easily. For instance, people with osteoporosis sometimes break a bone after falling down at
Breaking a bone can be serious, especially if the bone is in the hip. People who break a hip sometimes lose the
ability to walk on their own. Many of them end up in a nursing home. That’s why it is so important to avoid breaking a
bone in the first place.
How do I know if I have osteoporosis? — Osteoporosis does not cause symptoms until you break a bone. But your
doctor or nurse can have you tested for it. The best test is a bone density test called the “DXA test.” It is a special
kind of X-ray.
Experts recommend bone density testing for women older than 65. That is because women in this age group have
the highest risk of osteoporosis. Still, other people should sometimes be tested, too. Ask your doctor or nurse if you
should be tested.
Some people learn that they have osteoporosis because they break a bone during a fall or a mild impact. This is
called a “fragility fracture,” because people with healthy bones should not break a bone that easily. People who have
fragility fractures are at high risk of having other bones break.
What can I do to keep my bones as healthy as possible? — You can:
Eat foods with a lot of calcium, such as milk, yogurt, and green leafy vegetables
Eat foods with a lot of vitamin D, such as milk that has vitamin D added, and fish from the ocean
Take calcium and vitamin D pills
Be active for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week
Avoid smoking
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to 1 to 2 drinks a day at most
Do your best to keep from falling, too — It sounds simple, but you can prevent a lot of fractures by reducing the
chances of a fall. To do that:
Make sure all your rugs have a no-slip backing to keep them in place
Tuck away any electrical cords, so they are not in your way
Light all walkways well
Watch out for slippery floors
Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes with rubber soles
Have your eyes checked
Ask your doctor or nurse to check whether any of your medicines might make you dizzy or increase
your risk of falling
Can osteoporosis be treated? — Yes, there are a few medicines to treat osteoporosis. These medicines can
reduce the chances that you will break a bone.
Doctors and nurses usually suggest trying medicines called bisphosphonates first. If those medicines do not do
enough or if they cause side effects that you cannot stand, there are other medicines to try.
What do osteoporosis medicines do? — If you have osteoporosis or a high risk of breaking a bone, the medicines
your doctor prescribes can:
Reduce bone loss
Increase bone density or keep it about the same
Reduce the chances that you will break a bone
For the medicines to work, you must also take calcium and vitamin D supplements. Your doctor or nurse will tell you
how much medicine to take and how often to take it.
Which medicines might I need? — There are many different osteoporosis medicines. Your doctor will work with you
to choose the best one.
The list below gives basic information on osteoporosis medicines. The table lists the names of some common
osteoporosis medicine.
For more detailed information about your medicines, ask your doctor or nurse for information from Lexicomp available
through UpToDate. The Lexicomp handouts explain how to use and store your medicines. They also list possible side
effects and warn you if your medicines should not be taken with certain other medicines or foods.
Bisphosphonates — Most people being treated for osteoporosis take these medicines first. If they do not work well
enough or cause side effects that are too hard to handle, there are other options.
Bisphosphonates come in pill or a shot. Most people take 1 pill every week. If your doctor prescribes a
bisphosphonate pill, you must take the medicine exactly as directed. If you don’t, the medicine can irritate your throat
or stomach. For most bisphosphonate pills, you must:
Take the pill first thing in the morning, before you have anything to eat or drink
Drink an 8-ounce glass of water with the pill, but not eat or drink anything else for 30 minutes or 1 hour
(depending on which pill you take).
Avoid lying down for 30 minutes after taking the pill. (You must sit or stand during that time).
There is one bisphosphonate pill, delayed release risedronate (brand name: Atelvia™) that is taken in a different way
from the others. It is taken after breakfast with 4 ounces of water.
“Estrogen-like” medicines — Medicines called selective estrogen receptor modifiers (or “SERMs”) act like the
hormone “estrogen.” Estrogen helps prevent bone loss. After menopause, a woman’s body has less estrogen.
(Menopause is the time when a woman stops having periods.) SERMs can act like estrogen to stop bone loss. They
also reduce the risk of breast cancer in women at high risk. SERMs are only for women who have gone through
Hormone medicines — These medicines are sometimes called “hormone replacement therapy” or “HRT.” After
menopause, a woman’s body makes fewer hormones. Some women take HRT to replace these hormones. HRT can
also protect against osteoporosis.
Hormones are not used often to treat osteoporosis in women who have gone through menopause. This is because
other medicines usually work much better. But HRT can help women who cannot take other osteoporosis medicines.
Women who have not gone through menopause might take hormones in birth control pills or a patch to prevent
Some men get osteoporosis because their bodies do not make enough of a hormone called “testosterone.” If this
happens, doctors can give testosterone to treat the osteoporosis.
Parathyroid hormone (PTH) — Parathyroid hormone is an artificial form of a hormone the body makes naturally.
Getting an extra dose of PTH can tell the body to make new bone. It works very well, but is expensive. PTH is usually
only for people who have severe osteoporosis.
Calcitonin — Calcitonin is a hormone the body makes naturally. Doctors can give a man-made form to treat
osteoporosis. It is not used as often as other medicines because it does not work as well. But it can help relieve pain
from broken bones in the spine.
Denosumab — Denosumab is a new medicine for osteoporosis. If other osteoporosis medicines cause bad side
effects or do not help, your doctor might give you denosumab. It might also be a good choice for people with kidney
problems. Because denosumab is newer than other osteoporosis medicines, doctors do not know exactly how safe it
is to use for many years. So they do not prescribe it as often as other osteoporosis medicines.
How long do I need to take osteoporosis medicines? — Most people can safely take osteoporosis medicines for
many years. If you are not at high risk for breaking a bone, you might be able to stop your medicine for a year or
more. Your doctor will check your bone density to make sure you are not losing too much bone. If you do stop the
medicine, you will probably need to start it again later.
What else should I know about medicines for osteoporosis? — Some people have heard that taking
bisphosphonates for a long time can increase the risk of breaking certain bones. This is true, but it happens very
rarely. Your chances of breaking a bone from osteoporosis are much higher than your chances of breaking one
because you take bisphosphonates.
If you take osteoporosis medicines, your doctor will do regular exams and tests to see how well the medicines are
working. If they are not working well, you might need a different medicine.
Why are calcium and vitamin D important for bone health? — Calcium and vitamin D are important for bone
health, because they can:
Help keep bones strong
Prevent bones from breaking easily, especially bones in the spine
Help keep teeth healthy and strong
What can happen if people do not have healthy bones? — People who do not have healthy bones can have a
condition called “osteoporosis.” Osteoporosis can cause bones to:
Become thin and weak
Break more easily – Bone breaks often occur in the spine, hip, and arm bones near the wrist.
Doctors can use different treatments for osteoporosis, including medicines. But it’s also important to eat and drink
foods that have calcium and vitamin D. Eating enough calcium and vitamin D is an important first step in preventing
and treating osteoporosis.
What foods and drinks have calcium and vitamin D? — Different foods and drinks have calcium and vitamin D.
Some foods and drinks have more calcium and vitamin D than others.
Foods and drinks that have a lot of calcium include:
Milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream, and other dairy foods
Green vegetables, such as kale, collard greens, and broccoli
Certain nuts and breads
Foods that have calcium added to them, such as juices, cereals, and soy products
Foods and drinks that have a lot of vitamin D include:
Milk, orange juice, or yogurt with vitamin D added
Cooked salmon or mackerel
Canned tuna fish
Cereals with vitamin D added
Cod liver oil
People’s bodies can also get vitamin D from the sun. The body uses sunlight that shines on the skin to make vitamin
What are supplements? — Supplements are pills, capsules, liquids, or tablets that have nutrients in them.
Supplements are another way people can get calcium and vitamin D. Some supplements contain either calcium or
vitamin D. Others have both.
Do I need to take calcium or vitamin D supplements? — People who do not get enough calcium or vitamin D from
their food and drink might need to take supplements.
If your doctor recommends that you take calcium or vitamin D supplements, ask him or her which type, how much,
and when to take the supplements. For example, some calcium supplements can be taken with food, but others
should be taken on an empty stomach.
The type and dose of supplement that is right for you will also depend on your medical problems and the other
medicines you take.
What are some common side effects of calcium supplements? — Common side effects of calcium supplements
can include:
Constipation – People who are constipated can have trouble having bowel movements.
Upset stomach
Many people find that they can reduce these side effects by splitting up their calcium dose. For example, they might
take a few small doses of calcium each day instead of one large dose.
Taking calcium supplements can also increase a person’s chance of getting kidney stones. Kidney stones are small,
hard stone-like objects that can form in a person’s kidneys.
How much calcium and vitamin D do I need each day? — It depends, because each person is different. Ask your
doctor or nurse how much calcium and vitamin D you need each day. Women who have gone through menopause
and no longer get monthly periods usually need more calcium each day than women who still get monthly periods.