Dear Dr. Gott: I am a man, 88 1/2 years of age, who has been plagued with poor balance for five years. I was accustomed to walking up to 10 miles a day, working as a carpenter eight hours and fitting in five hours of dancing to the big bands, getting home at 5 a.m. One day, while watching a health program on television, the speaker said that diminished testosterone levels could be fatal. Now I’m concerned about my testosterone levels and my poor balance. What type of specialist is required?
Dear Reader: The reasons for poor balance are numerous. Perhaps you have a buildup of wax in one ear, an inner-ear problem, a central-nervous-system disorder such as Parkinson’s, peripheral nerve disease or something else. You should either seek the services of a neurologist or return to your primary-care physician for a referral. He or she can order the appropriate testing and perhaps get to the bottom of the issue.
A recent study suggests men with low testosterone levels after the age of 40 have a higher risk of death over a four-year period than those with normal levels. The study also indicated it remains unclear whether the two conditions — low testosterone and the higher risk of death — are even related.
Further studies and research are necessary before we can confirm anything.
Testosterone levels vary considerably between people, and levels decrease naturally as a man ages. I suggest, once again, that you return to your doctor and have him arrange to have blood drawn to determine whether a problem exists.
You might even enlist the services of an urologist, who can provide appropriate answers for you.