What happens to men with type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes is a disorder in which the amount of sugar in the blood is elevated. Its full name, diabetes mellitus, is often used rather than diabetes alone, to distinguish this disorder from diabetes insipidus.

Blood sugar is in the form of glucose, which is the main source of energy and comes from the food one eats. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into the cells to be used to provide energy for the body. Sometimes, the body does not make enough insulin or cannot utilize the insulin well. The resultant effect is that glucose stays in the blood and does not reach the cells. The resultant elevated blood glucose gives rise to diabetes and its complications.

Types of Diabetes

There are mainly 2 types of diabetes mellitus:

Type 1 diabetes: Here, the body does not make insulin. This is because the immune system of the body attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually more common in children and young adults. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive, so it is called insulin-dependent Diabetes mellitus.

Type 2 diabetes: In this case, the body mostly does not use insulin well. This is often called ‘insulin insensitivity’. It may also be combined with reduced production of insulin. Even though one can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, this type of diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. This is the most common type of diabetes and is called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

How common is type 2 diabetes?

According to the World Health Organization, 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, the majority living in low-and middle-income countries, and 1.5 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year. Both the number of cases and the prevalence of diabetes have been steadily increasing over the past few decades. More than 34 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens, and young adults are also developing it.

Type 2 Diabetes is also more frequently diagnosed at lower age and body mass index in men; even though the most prominent risk factor, which is obesity, is more common in women. Generally, and in a wide array of cultures, type 2 diabetes is more prevalent in men than women.  This may be due to the fact that men are more likely to have an increase in abdominal fat than women.

What are the symptoms and complications of diabetes?

Diabetes has symptoms in almost every organ of the body. The manifestation of these symptoms often depend on how high the blood sugar is and how long it has been high. Some of these signs and symptoms are: Increased thirst and Frequent urination; Extreme hunger and unexplained weight loss, fatigue, irritability, blurred vision, delayed wound healing, and frequent infections. In extreme cases, complications like a diabetic coma can occur.

The chronic complications of diabetes are many and are seen in various organs, the major organs where these complications are seen are: the eyes (leading to eye damage, retinopathy), the nervous system (neuropathy), the heart (cardiovascular disease), kidney (Kidney failure, nephropathy), and brain (stroke).

Effect of diabetes on men

In addition to all the above signs and symptoms, diabetes affects men specially too.

It causes Erectile Dysfunction (ED) where a man cannot get or keep an erection firm enough for sex. Men with diabetes are three times more likely to have ED.

It also causes an overactive bladder (needing to urinate frequently, mostly at night, male incontinence (leaking urine), recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), and retrograde ejaculation (semen is released into the bladder).

Diabetes also causes changes in the male body that affects sperm quality, leading to reduced fertility or sub-fertility. This does not mean that men with diabetes cannot have children, it just means their chances are a little lowered by diabetes.

Treatment of diabetes

If you are diabetic or show any of the symptoms listed above, visit your doctors who will do some tests on you, and prescribe a lifestyle change plan for you. The self-management plan for diabetes will include a dieting plan, and an exercise plan to switch to healthy living choices. A diabetic educator and dietitian are also very important in the management of diabetes to achieve a healthy life and reduce the complications to a minimum.