Women take the headlines when addressing age related bone loss, but men are subject to the threat of bone loss as well. It is estimated that 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis related fracture during their lifetime. There are two main types of the disease:
- Primary osteoporosis which is due to age
- Secondary osteoporosis which is caused by medical conditions, certain drug usage and other lifestyle factors.
Routine laboratory testing may reveal the underlying cause of osteoporosis in men whose bone loss was thought to have no known cause. Based upon a study in the October 2012 Osteoporosis International Journal, both men and women are diagnosed using bone mineral density (BMD) testing by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (Dexa scan). Dexa scan measures bone density in hips and spines. In addition, blood tests are conducted to assist with the diagnosis of osteoporosis. It is recommended that the following blood test be performed:
- Vitamin D
- Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
- Follical Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
- Thyroid Panel
- Complete Blood Count (CBC)
The study of osteoporosis in men found that the overwhelming majority of subjects’ osteoporosis was caused by low testosterone levels, vitamin D deficiency, the body’s inability to absorb calcium, mildly underactive thyroid, or overactive thyroid.
Osteoporosis can be effectively treated if it is detected before significant bone loss has occurred. Unfortunately, since men are not routinely tested or questioned about bone health, diagnosis often doesn’t take place until after a fracture occurs or a man complains of back pain. Men should be sure to discuss with their doctors all their medications as some medications are known to cause bone loss, such as glucocorticoids – typically prescribed to transplant patients or those with autoimmune diseases.
Again, men are susceptible to osteoporosis and should be vigilant about their bone health.
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