Most men don’t think twice about the health of their bones. Osteoporosis, a condition that develops with age causing bones to lose their density and become prone to fracture, has long been looked at as a feminine concern. Unfortunately for men, the disease is not limited to the ladies. While women are more frequently diagnosed with the condition, the prevalence of diagnosis among men is on the rise.
Men now make up approximately 20 percent of all osteoporosis patients, and the rate of undiagnosed cases is expected to be rather high. This has led the American College of Physicians to release new guidelines to encourage the detection and management of bone density loss among men so it can be treated more efficiently.
Understand Your Risk for Osteoporosis
Every person is at risk for developing osteoporosis as they age, but some are at a greater risk than others. A lot of men misbelieve that women are more prone to the disease due to their smaller bone structure and reduced muscle mass, but this is not true. Since women tend to live longer than men, women often have more years to experience bone damage as a result of age. Since so many men ignore the signs of the disease and take no precaution, when it is diagnosed there is often a high risk of injury.
Just as you take precautions to prevent other conditions that develop with age, men should be aware of their risk for bone density loss and follow the recommended guidelines for detection of the condition. To evaluate bone density loss in men, physicians will conduct a bone mineral density or DEXA test on high-risk adults, complete a physical examination and evaluate a person’s medical history and then conduct a blood test to evaluate hormone and nutrient levels.
A bone mineral density (DEXA) test is suggested for any man who meets at least one of the following guidelines:
- Over the age of 70
- Experienced a fracture after the age of 50
- Are between the ages of 50 and 69 and have a long standing history of tobacco use or alcohol abuse
- Have a history of delayed puberty, hypogonadism, hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD
- Have a personal history of prostate cancer or have been treated with androgen-deprivation therapy
- Have taken glucocorticoids
Being aware of the condition is one step towards preventing injury. Once you are aware of your increased risk for fracture you can avoid situations that might cause you to fall or hurt yourself. Consuming enough calcium and vitamin D can prevent exacerbation of the condition, while avoiding tobacco use and limiting alcohol consumption can also help prevent further bone deterioration.
If there is an underlying cause for the bone density loss, like for example a thyroid or parathyroid disease, then that condition will be treated in conjunction with the implementation of healthy lifestyle habits.
Whether you want to believe it or not, being a man doesn’t eliminate you from experiencing bone loss with age. Men who wish to preserve their strength and avoid injuries would do well to talk with their physicians about being tested for the condition—especially if you meet any of the criteria listed above.