Long Term Disability: Osteoporosis

Long Term Disability: Osteoporosis

nov 3

Many issues pertaining to health and well-being seem to articulate the differences between men and women clearly. Take osteoporosis, for example. Mere mention of this chronic illness in today’s culture conjures images of women suffering from weak and brittle bones. But a recent article in the New York Times gives us cause for concern: men get osteoporosis, too. But because it’s seen as a “women’s illness,” they’re less likely to get screened.

It’s important to reflect on the causes and prevention of this illness, which is a Long-Term Disability. Those suffering from osteoporosis experience challenges in their everyday lives, from difficulty walking and back pain. Over time, it can cause a loss of height and a stooped posture.

Women typically experience the onset of osteoporosis during menopause, and doctors are attuned to screen for the illness accordingly. But as the average life expectancy for men increases, so too do their aging bones, which lose density at a rate of 1 percent per year.

So what does this mean for older men? Men over 70 should have regular bone density tests with their physician. And men over 50 should be tested if they experience other risk factors, such as being underweight, consuming more than three alcoholic drinks a day on a regular basis, family history of the illness, regular smoking or having had a recent fracture or fall.

Additionally, men who are on androgen deprivation therapy as a result of a prostate cancer diagnosis are at increased risk for an osteoporotic fracture and should consult their physician for preventative measures.

This issue raises questions about how patients are motivated to seek treatments based on gendered understandings of illnesses. This misunderstanding extends beyond osteoporosis. Although it’s relatively rare, men are diagnosed with breast cancer. On the flip side: heart disease, which is typically associated with men, kills 8.6 million women worldwide each year.

When you experience troubling symptoms see your doctor right away! Don’t assume you won’t be affected because of your gender. The truth is, illnesses do not discriminate; they affect everyone.

 

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The information used in this blog was collected from the Mayo Clinic and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.