We make jokes about ‘man flu’ and we also often make jokes about men being ‘afraid’ of going to the doctor, and, in all reality, in the majority of cases, women will visit the doctor more regularly than men. But this does not mean men are immune to illness (even man flu!)
Because of men’s lack of medical ‘maintenance’, their aches, pains, coughs, colds, gripes and groans can often be left untreated, and these can quite often be masking serious health problems.
‘Movember’ is all about helping men live happier, healthier and longer lives. To tie in with the campaign’s month-long focus on men’s health, NPS MedicineWise is raising awareness about osteoporosis—an under-investigated and under-treated condition in men.
Osteoporosis affects men more often and more severely than many people realize. It is estimated that 1 in 4 Australian men aged over 50 will experience a minimal trauma fracture (a broken bone resulting from a minor bump or fall) because their bones have become fragile due to osteoporosis. Men are also more likely than women to die in the years following a minimal trauma fracture.
Yet many Australian men with osteoporosis are not receiving treatment. Less than 15% of Australian men with a minimal trauma fracture—the strongest sign of osteoporosis—are being investigated or treated for osteoporosis.
NPS MedicineWise Clinical Adviser Dr Andrew Boyden says, “Men are encouraged to talk to their GP about osteoporosis. Asking a few questions could keep them out of hospital suffering from a fracture which resulted from a minor bump or fall.
“Men who have had, or think they may have had, minimal trauma fracture in the past should ensure that their usual doctor or clinical practice is aware of this—as there are very effective treatments available for osteoporosis that lower the risk of another fracture.
“Report falls and fractures to your doctor, don’t dismiss a fracture as part of the ageing process.”
For men who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it’s very important to take medicines regularly as advised by their doctor. Data from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme shows that about 40% of people prescribed osteoporosis medicines did not take enough to get the most clinical benefit from them.
As well, general lifestyle measures can help all men aged 50 and over maintain their bone health and continue to enjoy an independent lifestyle as they become older:
- Stop smoking and limit alcohol intake to no more than 2 standard drinks a day
- Do regular, weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises
- Maintain body weight in healthy weight range
- Maintain daily dietary calcium intake as recommended by Australian Dietary Guidelines
- Maintain recommended vitamin D levels through safe sun exposure.
Men who are at higher risk of osteoporosis, such as those who have had a fracture, are aged 70 years or over, or are on long-term corticosteroid treatment, should also talk to their doctor about ways to help prevent falls.
To find out more about osteoporosis and the importance of taking osteoporosis medicines regularly, visit www.nps.org.au/osteoporosis.
Ladies – how about we look after our men a little bit more and target our ‘nagging’ to helping keep them strong and healthy by making every month time to care for our men’s health.