Diabetes affects over 37 million Americans, which includes a high percentage of men.
It is the seventh leading cause of death and the number one cause of kidney failure.
With its prevalence and danger, raising awareness about the condition and methods to prevent or manage it is crucial, which brings us to today’s focus – Diabetes Awareness.
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and it is the perfect period to draw attention to the dangers of this disease and how it affects men.
What is Diabetes?
According to the CDC, diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy.
Normally, the body converts some of the food you eat into simple sugar (glucose) and pumps it into your bloodstream.
When this process occurs in the body, your blood sugar increases, which signals the pancreas to release insulin to convert the blood sugar into energy for the body’s cells.
However, when you have diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to convert your blood sugar into energy.
And when the body cannot produce enough insulin and the blood sugar spikes, which can lead to severe health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, and loss of vision.
Types of Diabetes
The major types of diabetes fall under three classifications:
Type 1 Diabetes
This is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack itself. When this attack happens, the body stops producing insulin by destroying the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas.
Type 1 diabetes is mostly diagnosed among children, teenagers, and young adults (but can affect people of different ages), and medical professionals once referred to it as juvenile diabetes.
About 5-10% of people who have diabetes suffer from type 1.
There’s currently no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes, and people who have this type of diabetes need to take insulin every day to survive.
Type 2 Diabetes
With type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t use insulin properly and finds it difficult to maintain blood sugar levels.
Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes, with 90-95% of diabetes cases being type 2.
Patients with type 2 diabetes are usually middle-aged adults and older people because the disease takes many years to develop.
However, this type of diabetes is becoming more common among children, teens, and younger adults.
Gestational diabetes is more common among pregnant women who have never had diabetes.
Although it goes away after the baby is born, gestational diabetes increases the chances of having a baby with health problems after birth — the baby is more likely to become obese as a child or teen and develop type 2 diabetes in the future.
Also, when the mother develops gestational diabetes, it increases the chances of having type 2 diabetes in the future.
Other Types of Diabetes
Prediabetes affects over 96 million adults in the United States, with 80% not knowing they have the condition.
With this type of diabetes, the blood sugar levels are high but not high enough for a type 2 diagnosis.
Still, it has an increased chance of developing into type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
Others include the following:
- Monogenic diabetes syndromes: This rare, inherited form of diabetes accounts for 4% of diabetic cases. Some examples of monogenic diabetes include neonatal diabetes and maturity-onset diabetes of the young.
- Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes: This form of diabetes is specific to people with cystic fibrosis disease.
- Drug or chemical-induced diabetes: This happens after a person has had an organ transplant, following HIV/AIDS treatment, or with glucocorticoid steroid use.
- Diabetes insipidus: This rare disorder causes an imbalance of the body’s fluids and makes the kidneys produce a large amount of urine.
What Are the Signs of Diabetes in Men?
Now that you understand what diabetes is and the types available, another crucial aspect worth sharing this National Diabetes awareness month is the signs of diabetes in men.
For most diseases, early detection of the condition increases your chances of managing or curing the disease, so it is important to stay conscious of your body and how it functions.
The signs of diabetes in men may include the following:
- Blurry vision
- Constantly dry mouth
- Feeling weak and tired
- Sores or cuts healing slowly
- Sudden thirst
- Sudden weight loss without trying
- Unexplained infections, including gum, skin, and genital infections
- Unexplained numbness in your hands or feet
- Urinating frequently
What Are the Side Effects of Diabetes in Men?
The long-term side effects for men with diabetes are often life-threatening when not managed properly.
High blood sugar levels severely affect the body’s organs and tissues and cause serious damage to them.
The side effects of diabetes in males include:
Is diabetes more common in men or women? Yes, men are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes even when they weigh less than women. This is because men can store more fat in their bellies than women.
Also, more men go undiagnosed for diabetes than women because they don’t report the condition early.
When men with diabetes don’t diagnose and manage it early, it can affect their sexual life, and that’s where erectile dysfunction comes in.
Erectile dysfunction is the inability of a man to achieve or maintain an erection. Although erectile dysfunction may be a symptom of other health conditions, men with diabetes are also at risk of suffering from ED.
A study shows that over 50 percent of men with diabetes have erectile dysfunction.
Lower Sex Drive
Is there any relationship between diabetes and sex drive in men? Yes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, men with type 2 diabetes are twice more likely to suffer from low testosterone than men without diabetes.
Also, men with diabetes are also at risk of retrograde ejaculation, which results in some semen flowing into the bladder during ejaculation.
Damage to the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)
Most men with diabetes develop problems with their autonomous nervous system, which can lead to sexual problems.
This can cause damage to the nerves and blood vessels, especially those found in the genitals.
The ANS is responsible for the expansion and shrinking of the blood vessels. When damaged by diabetes, it causes slow blood flow to the genitals and may result in erectile dysfunction.
Other side effects of diabetes in males include:
- Cardiovascular conditions, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, chest pain, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis.
- Dental problems
- Eye damage that can lead to blindness, cataracts, and glaucoma.
- Foot damage
- Hearing loss
- Kidney damage that can lead to kidney failure or the need for dialysis or a transplant.
- Nerve damage that can cause numbing and tingling of the toes or fingers that then spread
- Skin infections
Causes of Diabetes in Men
The risk factors that increase the chances of diabetes in men include the following:
- Being older than 45
- Being overweight
- Excessive smoking
- Not engaging in enough physical activity
- Prior high blood pressure or high cholesterol conditions
How to Manage Diabetes this National Diabetes Awareness Month
Diabetes affects your overall health and causes your body more damage if you don’t manage it well. But why wait till you suffer the condition?
Monitoring the risk factors within your control can help you prevent the condition.
However, for men who already have the disease, some steps to take the National Diabetes Awareness month – and beyond – include the following:
- Eat healthy whole foods: Eat whole foods, including vegetables, whole grains, beans, fruits, healthy fats, low sugar, or foods rich in nutrients and fiber and low in fats and calories. Also, avoid excess sugar like carbonated drinks, sodas, candy, and sugary juices.
- Exercise regularly: Engage in physical exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Some exercises include walking, swimming, or other forms of physical activity you enjoy.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Develop a weight loss or maintenance plan with a health professional.
- Monitor your blood pressure: Your blood pressure should not exceed 140/90 mmHg.
- Observe your blood sugar levels regularly: Ensure you keep your blood glucose levels as near to normal as possible by eating healthy, taking prescribed medication, and increasing your activity level.
- Quit smoking: Smoking causes a lot of health conditions, including cancer, liver problems, cardiovascular and heart disease, and even diabetes. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of having these conditions and other health complications.
- Take your medication and insulin: If you’re already diagnosed with diabetes, monitor your blood sugar and blood pressure and closely follow your prescription.
What is the Cure for Diabetes?
There’s currently no cure for diabetes; the best you can do is avoid the risk factors or manage the condition.
Celebrate Diabetes Awareness Month With Craft Medical
Diabetes is a deadly condition, and even more so among men. In addition, men who already have diabetes are at risk of developing comorbidities.
This 2022 National Diabetes Awareness Month, we advise that more men should take their health seriously.
We understand that certain societal and cultural standards make some men find regular check-ups needless. Still, understanding how your body works and keeping up with its changes is essential to staying healthy.
At Craft Medical, our mission is to help men live healthier lives and be themselves again while maintaining privacy and confidentiality.
Need tips or professional guidance on your medical health? Click the button below to schedule a consultation!