Have you been urinating more frequently, feel tired despite a good night’s sleep, and find yourself more thirsty than usual? If you’ve been noticing symptoms like these, you’d be right to be concerned. The risk of type 2 diabetes, which usually develops in adults as a result of lifestyle, is higher in men at 14.6 percent compared to women’s 9.1 percent.
Getting more information is useful at this point as it can help you understand the disease better and can help you decide if you should go see a doctor about it.
In this article, we take a closer look at what diabetes is, its symptoms, risk factors, and how it is related to men.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a life-long health condition wherein a person’s blood glucose or blood sugar reaches unhealthily high levels.
Blood glucose is the body’s foremost source of energy, and this is derived from the food we ingest with the assistance of insulin, a hormone processed by the pancreas.
When a person’s body cannot make enough insulin or is unable to use it efficiently, the glucose remains in the blood instead of reaching the cells. This results in the accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream which can cause many health conditions.
Though it is a serious condition, there are plenty of ways to manage and live with it.
What Diabetes Symptoms are Exclusive to Men?
Diabetes symptoms are many. Since it shares symptoms with other medical conditions like chronic fatigue and pancreatitis, it can easily be mistaken for something else. How do you know if you may have diabetes? There are a few symptoms that are exclusive to men.
1. Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Since up to 70 percent of men with diabetes experience an inability to maintain or achieve an erection, ED is one of the glaring signs of diabetes in men.
Why is this? The blood vessels and nerves play a vital role in having an erection. When they aren’t functioning as they should, it negatively impacts the way the penis works.
2. Genital Thrush
Another sign and symptom of diabetes in men is a recurring case of genital thrush. This is a kind of fungal yeast infection where the leftover sugar in the blood is passed into the urine.
Although genital thrush can happen to anyone, yeast grows well on sugar. For diabetic men, the penis is a likely spot where this fungal infection will thrive.
Genital thrush can be identified by the following:
- Discomfort and soreness in the penis during sexual intercourse
- Itching, redness, and swelling around the penis’ head
- Unpleasant odor coming from the genital area
- The skin of the penis is lumpy and whitish
3. Damage to the Autonomic Nervous System
Most symptoms of diabetes in men are associated with sexual health, but it also impacts men’s autonomic nervous system.
This system is responsible for all the body’s involuntary actions, including the beating of the heart, breathing, and constricting or widening of the blood vessels.
This system works autonomously without requiring any conscious effort from you. If the body’s nerves and vessels are battling diabetes, blood flow to the penis slows down and the autonomous process is interrupted.
4. Retrograde Ejaculation
Retrograde ejaculation is when the semen goes into the bladder instead of through the penis during orgasm.
Although the ability to reach sexual satisfaction is not impacted, men with diabetes who exhibit this symptom may ejaculate minimal to zero semen, thus earning the name dry orgasm.
Overall, this nerve damage is not harmful but may lead to male infertility in the long run.
5. Urologic Challenges
Since diabetes can cause diabetic nerve damage, several urologic conditions can occur as symptoms of diabetes.
The urinary system eliminates, manages, and regulates the body’s urinary waste. This entails the involvement of several organs like the bladder, kidneys, urethra, and ureters. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, there is a high possibility that your urinary organs won’t be up to their regular tasks.
One of the common urologic problems is having an overactive bladder (OAB) and stress incontinence. An overactive bladder is when your bladder can’t hold the urine as it should. As a result, involuntary urine loss occurs. Men will usually have the sudden urge to urinate because the bladder begins to spasm and contract involuntarily.
Urinary incontinence is common in the US. It’s estimated that around 33 million Americans have OAB. Aging and prostate problems heighten the risk for this condition. While it doesn’t pose serious health risks, it can be a nuisance and a source of embarrassment in daily life.
6. Reduced Muscle Mass
When the body’s blood sugar is consistently high, it may resort to breaking down fat and muscle for energy instead of using blood glucose. This is a typical symptom for men with type 1 diabetes.
Risk Factors for Diabetes in Men
If you meet any of the following criteria, you have a higher risk of developing diabetes:
- Older than 45 years old
- First-degree relative/s who have been diagnosed with diabetes
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Unhealthy diet
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Lack of sleep
- Those with African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Islander ethnicity
Diabetes is a chronic and severe health condition. It is considered the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Despite the fact that it can be managed, it can still lead to severe complications and even death when left untreated.
Here are two possible complications for men:
Eye disease is a common complication of diabetes, particularly type 2. Over time, men can develop eye problems. To prevent this from happening, blood sugar and cholesterol levels must be managed to keep retinopathy from worsening.
Diabetic retinopathy starts with minor vision problems. However, continuous damage to the retina’s blood vessels can eventually cause blindness.
Diabetic Kidney Disease
The kidney filters the body’s waste and unused water from the blood to produce urine. This organ also helps in controlling your blood pressure.
High blood sugar levels can damage your kidney’s blood vessels. When this happens, the kidney can’t perform its function effectively.
Additionally, the buildup of waste can lead to other complications like higher blood pressure, which also negatively impacts the kidneys.
If you suspect you have diabetes, it’s important to schedule a consult with a trusted medical doctor. Though there is no cure, early detection and management will make a significant difference in how the disease progresses and will ultimately affect your quality of life.