Osteoporosis In Men: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment
Osteoporosis is a condition that decreases the density of the bones making them vulnerable to fractures. The common sites for fractures include hip, wrist, and spine, but other bones are also susceptible to breaks.
Osteoporosis is considered a ‘silent’ disease as most people are unable to notice it until they fracture a bone. It can progress over time which can cause the bones to become fragile and break more easily. Osteoporosis can cause the bones to become so weak that even bending, lifting, or even sneezing can cause breakage of bones. Along with fractures, other Osteoporosis symptoms include loss of weight, pain, and a change in posture.
Why is there a higher risk in women than men?
According to statistics, 70% of all the Osteoporosis cases are of women. Every second woman over the age of 50 is likely to suffer from this condition, while the same ratio is nearly half in men.
The reason why:
Osteoporosis is more common in women than in men because men generally have a larger skeleton than women which reduce their chances of having a lower bone density. The bone mass in men decreases at a lower rate in men as compared to women until the age of 65-70. After that age, it generally happens at the same rate in both men and women.
Estrogen is responsible for maintaining bone health. After menopause, the production of estrogen shrinks in women due to which women tend to lose bone mass at a faster rate, especially after the age of 50. Even genetically, women have thinner bones than men as, after puberty, men tend to have higher bone growth than females.
Risk factors of osteoporosis in men:
A person may not feel any symptoms of Osteoporosis at all, but an easy fracture might be the first sign of having this disease. The main risk factors that are responsible for Osteoporosis in men are:
- Consumption of certain medications for a long time may put the person at the risk of Osteoporosis. These medications include steroids, anticonvulsants, and certain cancer treatments.
- Suffering from Chronic diseases that affect the kidney, stomach, intestines, lungs, and hormone levels.
- Low levels of the sex hormone testosterone
- Unhealthy habits such as smoking, consuming excess alcohol, poor health, and lack of physical activity.
Types of Osteoporosis:
There are two main types of Osteoporosis: Primary and Secondary.
- Primary Osteoporosis is caused by bone loss due to aging or due to an anonymous cause. In older men, usually after 70 years of age, bone loss becomes the main reason for Osteoporosis.
- In secondary Osteoporosis, the loss of bone is caused by a secondary factor which includes a certain medication or habit that becomes the main cause of the lower bone mass. Some of these factors include low testosterone levels, alcohol, smoking, and Immobilization.
The osteoporosis treatment may be provided differently for different people depending on the situation. There are three options related to its treatment:
- Treating the root disease
- Lifestyle changes
Treatment of the root disease:
When Osteoporosis is caused due to some other prevailing medical condition, it is known as secondary Osteoporosis.
Medical conditions or causes that may result in Osteoporosis are:
- Kidney failure
- Liver Impairment
- Overconsumption of Alcohol
- Antacids containing aluminum
Treatment of secondary Osteoporosis can be more complex than the primary one as it completely depends on the treatment of the underlying disease.
The medication depends on the cause of the disease and other factors such as age, general health, stage of the fracture, and future risk for fractures. Commonly, the doctor may use one of the three options:
- Bisphosphonates: These medications can be taken orally or through injection. They are most commonly used to prevent the loss of bone density by interfering with the body’s process of breaking down bone tissue.
- Testosterone therapy: Men with low testosterone levels are at a higher risk to develop Osteoporosis. It may happen due to the age factor or due to a side-effect of any other disease. Low testosterone levels in men need to be administered through medications or other recommendations by the doctor.
- Parathyroid Hormone Therapy: It uses a drug called Teriparatide(Forteo) which helps to increase bone density and bone strength. It is mostly used to treat Osteoporosis, especially when the person is at a high risk of bone fractures. There are a few side effects of using this therapy as the patient may suffer dizziness or leg cramps.
The doctors may recommend a few changes in the daily lifestyle which can be beneficial to the bones and aid in correcting this condition. Some of these common changes are:
- Avoid smoking: Smoking can lower the bone density which is why smokers have a higher risk of suffering from the disorder.
- Reduce Alcohol and caffeine consumption: Heavy drinking can lower the nutrition and hormone levels in the body which can lead to a lower bone density. It can also lead to a higher risk of breaking the bones. Overconsumption of caffeine can lead to Osteoporosis, though a normal amount of caffeine intake is generally safe.
- Exercise: Physical activities can increase bone mass and make them stronger for the older age. It is recommended to continue with the prescribed exercises only, as jumping or twisting may be unhealthy or hazardous to the weak bones. Some other forms of exercise can benefit the bones and strengthen them.
- Healthy Diet: A healthy diet can improve overall health. Consuming more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and dairy products can benefit the growth of the body. Calcium and Vitamin D are the essentials for Osteoporosis as they are both crucial for developing healthy bones. Calcium intake for adults should be around 1,000-1,200 mg per day and is found in cheese, yogurt, soy products, and cereals. Vitamin D requires spending time in the sun with a daily intake of 600-1,000 IU (International Units).
- Preventing falls: Falls are responsible for most of the fractures in older people, especially hip and spines. It is recommended to participate in a fall prevention program to learn different steps to protect oneself against falls.