In the public health world, there are three types of prevention: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary prevention is keeping the disease of osteoporosis from getting started. The steps for primary prevention of osteoporosis are 1) getting enough calcium in your diet, 2) including vitamin D in your regime and 3) doing weight-bearing exercise.
Secondary prevention deals with the early onset of a negative health outcome. In other words, you have the disease and want to prevent something bad from happening as a result. In the case of osteoporosis, the “bad” or negative health outcome is a fracture. Many people refer to osteoporosis as the “silent thief” because often times people are not aware that they have osteoporosis until they break a bone. Once an individual breaks a bone without significant trauma, they are at high risk of another fracture.
So how would you implement secondary prevention of osteoporosis? Get a bone density test! Currently, this is the only way that you can determine that you have osteoporosis prior to breaking a bone. If you are a woman over age 65 or a man over age 70, Medicare covers a bone density test every two years. If you are younger and have a risk factor for osteoporosis, you can also get a bone density test. A great way to find out about factors that could put you at risk for a fracture is to go to the ABH Fracture Risk Calculator™.
In addition to getting diagnosed, you definitely want to continue your intake of calcium and vitamin D and keep exercising!