Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic condition that is estimated to affect 32.4 million Americans a year.
It occurs when the body no longer produces enough insulin to function properly, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin.
Diabetes affects both men and women. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15.3% of men were estimated to have diabetes mellitus as of 2017, compared with 14.9% of women.
Although both genders experience similar symptoms, there are some specific signs and symptoms in men, which we will discuss in this article.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes found in both men and women
Symptoms vary from person to person. The most common early signs of diabetes include:
- Frequent urination, in particular at night
- Increased hunger
- Extreme fatigue/feeling tired a lot
- Blurry vision
- Unexplained weight loss
- Tingling sensation or numbness in the extremities, sometimes pain.
Although these symptoms are often prominent, they can go unnoticed.
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Symptoms Of Diabetes In Men
1) Low testosterone
Testosterone is a primary sex hormone that plays a vital role in the production of male characteristics. Men with type 2 diabetes tend to have lower levels of testosterone than those without diabetes.
Some research suggests that testosterone could be linked with a risk of type 2 diabetes. One study found that low testosterone levels were associated with a higher risk for T2DM among men but lower risk for T2DM among women.
This was further highlighted in a meta-analysis published in 2018. It was concluded that “higher testosterone level can significantly decrease the risk of [type 2 diabetes] in men, and testosterone is an important protective factor against type 2 diabetes in men.”
It was also noted that more research needs to be done on the efficacy of testosterone supplementation in reducing diabetes risk.
Testosterone is directly related to insulin sensitivity and lipid (blood fat/cholesterol) metabolism.
Other studies have found a link between low testosterone and metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of diabetes.
2) Erectile dysfunction
Awareness of erectile dysfunction as a significant complication of diabetes has increased in recent years. Many studies have reviewed the link between the two conditions, with research showing that men with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop ED.
It has also been sound that the onset of ED also occurs 10–15 years earlier in men with diabetes than it does in those without diabetes.
The prevalence between diabetes and erectile dysfunction in men is thought to be related to circulation and the body’s nervous system.
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can result in several health complications, including ED. This is as constant fluctuating blood glucose levels can cause damage to blood vessels and nerves, which play a role in sexual stimulation.
3) Loss of muscle mass
Another symptom that men with type 2 diabetes may experience is a loss of muscle mass. Diabetes is a condition caused by insufficient insulin levels, which not only lowers blood sugar but also promotes cell growth. As a result, this is thought to suppress the growth of muscle cells, contributing to a decline in skeletal muscle mass.
4) Genital thrush
People with diabetes tend to have weaker immunity and are more susceptible to infections. Bacteria, viruses, and fungi, including yeast, can cause infections if a person’s immune system cannot control the levels in the body.
A 2018 study, including data from over 300,000 people, showed that people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of infection, including yeast infection.
Yeast feeds on sugar, so higher glucose levels in the blood increase the likelihood of developing genital thrush.
Symptoms of thrush in men include:
- Reddening or swelling or soreness of the head of the penis
- Itching around the tip of the penis
- Discharge beneath the foreskin
- Nasty odor
- Pain during sex
5) Retrograde ejaculation
Diabetes can cause retrograde ejaculation, in which poor blood sugar control over a long-term period leads to neuropathy of the bladder.
Retrograde ejaculation can occur in diabetic males as a consequence of diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage).
The first sign of retrograde ejaculation will be a dry orgasm where you have very little or no semen. One study published in the journal of Andrology demonstrates that retrograde ejaculation is a common condition in men with DM.
6) Excessive urination
Diabetes can cause a number of bladder problems, including polyuria, also known more simply as excessive urination.
Polyuria is different from having the urge to urinate frequently (urinary frequency) because urine volume is often average or less-than-normal in the case of urinary frequency.
Polyuria is often associated with polydipsia in diabetes. Polydipsia means abnormally increased thirst and water intake. This occurs from the fluid loss and dehydration that polyuria can cause.
7) Urinary tract infections
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
The bacteria (usually Escherichia coli) are mostly responsible for UTIs and can gain entry via urethra or reach the urinary system via blood.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) affects 9.4% of patients with type 2 diabetes compared to only 5.7% of nondiabetics. This is due to several factors. To begin with, poor circulation reduces the ability of white blood cells to travel in the body and fight off infection.
Following this, high blood glucose levels can result in the kidneys processing sugar into the urine, increasing the risk of developing a urinary tract infection. And third, some people with diabetes have problems emptying their bladder, which can further increase the risk of a urine infection.
Many risk factors can cause the development of type 2 diabetes, including ones that cannot be avoided or challenging to control, such as:
- Family history: Type 2 diabetes is hereditary. The risk increases if a family member or if a close relative has the disease.
- Race/ethnicity: It is not known why, but certain ethnicities have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes, including African- Caribbean, Hispanic, Asian, and Native Americans.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Polycystic ovary syndrome is related to insulin resistance; therefore, the risk of getting type 2 diabetes increases.
- Gestational diabetes: Although gestational diabetes can disappear after birth, the risk of developing the condition is higher if the mother warrants the above.
- Steroids: Although beneficial for treating inflammatory conditions, steroid therapy can cause a rise in blood glucose, leading to the diagnosis of steroid-induced diabetes. This may or may not resolve when steroid therapy stops.
There are, however, more common causes of type 2 diabetes; all of which can be controlled to reduce the risk or even prevent the likelihood. These include:
- Lack of physical activity: A lack of physical activity increases the risk of becoming insulin resistance or worsens the condition in someone who has an established diagnosis.
- Unhealthy eating/ poor dietary habits: Foods and drinks high in refined sugar, saturated fats, and excess in calories increase the likelihood of type 2 diabetes and related disorders.
- Overweight/Obesity: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of becoming insulin resistant.
Diagnosis and screening
Along with early intervention, screening can delay disease development, prevent the need for aggressive treatment.
In turn, there is then a chance to reduce the risk of developing comorbidities and complications of type 2 diabetes.
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can result in a several complications, including:
Some studies have even shown that diabetes can increase the risk of developing both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia
Individuals who carry the risk factors are classed as having prediabetes (borderline diabetes).
Screening should also be carried out for the following groups:
- Pregnant women: especially if they have risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. Screening is not only important for the mother, but also for the child as high blood sugar levels increases the risk of congenital damage.
- Children and adolescents: although type 2 diabetes often develops in adulthood, there are now more children and adolescents being diagnosed with the disease. Therefore children or adolescents who carry risk factors must be screened.
- Older adults: the risk of prediabetes is higher in older adults. Screening is advised to prevent complications that could lead to functional impairment from adult-onset diabetes
Diabetes is a growing problem in the United States, and according to the CDC, men are at a slightly higher risk of developing the disease. Although symptoms for both men and women are similar, there are some diabetes symptoms specific to men. Being proactive is vital. If you are experiencing the symptoms discussed in this article, it is important to speak with your doctor.