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Understanding Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms and Their Effect on Men’s Health

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Understanding Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms and Their Effect on Men’s Health

diabetes and men's health

Men, by and large, are at a
higher risk for various adverse health outcomes compared to their female
counterparts, especially when it comes to some of the top leading causes of
death in the U.S., such as diabetes. While diabetes affects over 30 million people
in the nation, men, biologically speaking, have a higher susceptibility to
being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 95% of all diagnosed
diabetes cases. Fortunately, with preventative measures and proper health
management, men can reduce their risk of developing diabetes, and the negative
health outcomes brought about by the disease. Here are a few tips to start:

Learn the Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes Specific to Men’s Health

Although men have a greater
predisposition to type 2 diabetes, they are still at risk for other forms of
diabetes like type 1. With both type 1 and type 2
symptoms may appear gradually or, in some cases, not at all. But more than
likely, diabetes will manifest itself in one or more of the following signs:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased appetite
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision

Both men and women share
some of the tell-tale signs of diabetes. However, men may also experience
unique effects of diabetes pertaining to urological and sexual health, such as:

  • Erectile

    The inability to achieve or maintain an erection, known as erectile dysfunction
    (ED), will affect a large majority of men over the course of their lifetime.
    But it is estimated that men who have diabetes will
    develop ED
    to 15 years earlier than non-diabetic men. This is likely because uncontrolled
    high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and nerves in the penis.
  • Genital
    Thrush is a type of yeast
    infection common in individuals with diabetes because the high glucose levels
    in the body provide an optimal breeding ground for fungus. In men, genital
    thrust typically affects the head of the penis resulting in redness, swelling,
    itching, in addition to cottage-cheese like discharge under the foreskin and
    unpleasant odor.
  • Retrograde
    damage from diabetes can affect how a male’s bladder contracts during
    ejaculation, causing semen to travel back up into the bladder rather than out
    through the penis.

It’s important for men to
recognize the indications and characteristics of diabetes to receive a timely
and proper diagnosis and prevent further diabetes-related

Understand the Risk Factors of Diabetes for Men

We know that gender in and
of itself is a significant risk factor for men when it comes to developing type
2 diabetes specifically. But other risk factors, modifiable and non-modifiable,
that can increase the likelihood of men developing diabetes include:

  • Being 45 years of age or older
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Being overweight or obese; especially men
    whose waist size is over 40 inches as they are five times more likely to
    develop diabetes

    than those with a smaller waist size
  • Being physically inactive less than three
    times a week
  • Eating a poor diet; high in sugar and
    refined carbohydrates
  • Having an ethnic background of
    African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Native Alaskan, Asian American,
    and Pacific Islander

Improve Your Health to Prevent or Manage Diabetes

Whether you are at risk of
developing diabetes or have already been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s never
too late to make changes to your lifestyle that will improve your health and
prognosis. The first step is to talk to your doctor, as they can perform a
blood glucose test that can help detect type 2 diabetes and guide you toward
any medication or other treatments you may need. However, there are steps men
should take on their own as well to help mitigate diabetes risk and

  • Avoid unhealthy habits like smoking and
    excessive drinking; ideally, men should have no more than two drinks a day
  • Aim for an active lifestyle consisting of
    at least 30 minutes of exercise per day
  • Maintain a healthy body weight and BMI for
    better glucose levels
  • Eat a balanced diet to control your blood
    sugar levels; avoid added sugar, sodium, and fats (“good fats” like avocados
    and nuts are okay), and strive for fruits, vegetables, and whole grains high in

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