The same endearing qualities that keep men from asking for directions could be why they refuse to take health care seriously. Guys, it seems, are less likely to seek medical advice than their female counterparts. Experts tell us that it seems to have something to do with their feelings about masculinity. Is this true? Do admired traits such as strength, dominance, and self reliance stand in the way of preventive care?
Men are tough and they are living longer. If you live longer you are bound to have more health care issues. This brings me to the subject of osteoporosis. I like to people watch. The next time you go out, even if it is just to your favorite fast food restaurant, look around and tell me what you see. I’ve been noticing that a lot of older men are walking with their shoulders and spines hunched forward. Men get osteoporosis too.
When most people think of osteoporosis they automatically think “women.” The truth is that by age 70 men are losing bone at nearly the same rate as women. Men are famous for not taking care of themselves; too many drink alcohol to excess, smoke, eat a poor diet, use illegal drugs, have unsafe sex, and are likely to take risks. They tend to ignore their concerns until well past the point of early diagnosis and treatment. On average men see their doctors less often than women.
Men most likely to have osteoporosis are over age 75, have a low body –mass index, have lost more than 5% of their body weight, currently smoke and are physically inactive. Osteoporosis in men is more likely to be secondary to other disease processes or metabolic problems, but that doesn’t make it less debilitating. Of course genes factor into the equation too. If you notice that your father is “shrinking” (losing height) or has had a hip fracture, he may have osteoporosis. What does that mean to you? It means that you are at risk of following in his footsteps. Think prevention. Even if you are symptom free you should recognize that men get osteoporosis too. Ask your doctor about bone density screening if you are even a little concerned that osteoporosis runs in your family. The same advice applies as for women. You want to prevent a fracture, which means that you need to safety proof your house and exercise to improve balance and increase strength. A healthy diet and recommended supplements work as well for mean as for women.