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One of the most common health problems in women over 50 is osteoporosis. This disease makes bones brittle and more prone to breakage by destroying tissue in the bones. Some treatment is available for osteoporosis; however, prevention is the best cure. By getting regular exercise, drinking milk, eating a healthy diet and taking calcium supplements, you are helping your body work against osteoporosis. While complete prevention may not be possible, the more you do to help your body, the happier your bones will be.
Two tests are commonly used to screen for osteoporosis.
DEXA Scan (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) - The DEXA scanner uses two different types of x-rays to examine the bones, typically the lower spine or hip. Then, a radiation detector is waved over the lower body. A computer uses the images produced to measure bone density by examining how much radiation the bone absorbed. A denser bone will take in more radiation. While the mention of absorbing radiation can be frightening, the radiation exposure to the patient in a DEXA scan is less than that in a chest x-ray.
Quantitative Ultrasound (QUS) – This test measures bone density in the heel. If this ultrasound shows bone loss, the patient would then have a DEXA scan to determine the extent.