Signs of Diabetes in Men
Last updated on August 17th, 2016
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease in which the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin or the insulin is produced by the pancreas but the individual cannot use the insulin provided. Some diabetics have low insulin levels and insulin resistance at the same time. The end result of these phenomena are that the blood glucose levels rise.
When high blood glucose levels are left untreated, complications can develop. High blood glucose levels can cause kidney failure (diabetic nephropathy), nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy), eye damage (diabetic retinopathy), and diseases affecting the heart or the skin. Heart attacks, for example, are related to diabetics who have uncontrolled blood glucose levels.
The complications that diabetics get from type 1 or type 2 diabetes can be very dangerous. When the disease is left unchecked, there can be serious skin infections, heart attacks, stroke, or irreversible damage to the eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
Men also have the added complication of having erectile dysfunction from high blood glucose levels. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be permanent, and, like other complications of diabetes, keeping diabetes in good control can decrease the incidence of complications.
Symptoms of Diabetes in Men
When diabetes is in its early stages, there may be no noticeable symptoms. Some of the typical symptoms of early diabetes in men include the following:
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurry vision
- Unusual tiredness
- Increased urination
- Erectile dysfunction
If the diabetes is unchecked, it becomes worse and complications usually follow. Some complications include eye damage, kidney damage, and nerve damage. Bacterial infections of the fingernails, toenails, hair follicles, and eyelids are other common complications that may indicate a man has diabetes mellitus.
As mentioned, erectile dysfunction in men is the result of untreated type 2 diabetes. This involves being unable to get an erection during sex as well as an inability to hold the erection long enough to complete the act of sexual intercourse.
Erectile dysfunction among diabetic men is extremely common. According to statistics from the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, men who are diabetic have a 20 to 75 percent chance of having erectile dysfunction. Sometimes, this is the only symptom a man has to indicate that he has diabetes. This means that all cases of erectile dysfunction should be checked out as possibly being due to having diabetes.
Erectile dysfunction in men stems from damage to the autonomic nervous system or ANS. When the ANS is disrupted, the blood vessels and nerves that supply the penis are damaged and erectile dysfunction ensue. The nerves do not send the appropriate signal to the penis to allow for an erection and the damaged blood vessels do not allow blood to rush into the penis to create an erection.
Retrograde Ejaculation in Diabetic Men
Men who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes may also have what is known as “retrograde ejaculation”. This results in semen backing up inside eh bladder rather than going out the urethra. Men with retrograde ejaculation will notice that there is less ejaculate material upon having an orgasm.
Urologic Problems in Men with Diabetes
Men with diabetes can suffer from urologic problems. The damage to the nerves can affect the bladder, resulting in an inability to control urination (incontinence), an overactive bladder, or uncontrolled urinary tract infections. What this means is that if you have any of these symptoms, especially if you also have erectile dysfunction, you should see the doctor in order to be checked out for having some type of diabetes.
Risk Factors for Diabetes in Men
There are many factors that can go into developing diabetes and its complications in men. These include the following:
- Being older than 40 years of age
- Having elevated cholesterol levels
- Having hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Being unable or unwilling to exercise
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a history of smoking
If you have any of these risk factors, you need to try and reduce these risk factors and you need to see your doctor more frequently in order to be checked for diabetes.
Prevention of Diabetes in Men
The best ways to avoid getting diabetes if you are a man include exercising on a regular basis, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet that does not cause you to become overweight. Once you already have diabetes, you may need to be stricter on your diet and may need to take medications or insulin to control the high blood sugar levels.
Diabetes and its complication, heart disease, can result in a man having psychological issues, such as depression or anxiety. When you have these symptoms, it can make the erectile dysfunction worse. If you have diabetes and also have anxiety or depressive symptoms, you should talk to your primary care physician about being checked for diabetes or treating your diabetes more aggressively.
If you are a man facing diabetes and develop erectile dysfunction, there are things you can do in order to treat the diabetic complications. This includes taking medications, such as vardenafil (Levitra), tadalafil (Cialis), or sildenafil (Viagra). These are medications that are known to improve erectile dysfunction. When these medications are also mixed with injectable prostaglandins, the erectile dysfunction can be improved. It may mean that you have to see an endocrinologist or urologist to have both diabetes and erectile dysfunction treated.
Diabetic men who have low testosterone levels, will feel depressed, have a decreased libido, and a reduction in the amount of muscle mass in the body. Fortunately, low testosterone levels can be treated by giving exogenous testosterone, which can greatly help the low testosterone problem.
There are certain changes you can make in your lifestyle that can make a difference in your emotional and physical state when you have diabetes. These include the following:
- Getting regular exercise (at least 150 minutes per week)
- Eating a diet that doesn’t contain simple sugars
- Having a balanced diet that is low in calories and that has plenty of fruits, vegetables, and high quality protein
According to research by the CDC, men have a greater chance of having diabetes when compared to women. While people of all ages can get diabetes, it is increasing in incidence among younger men and even children. This is believed to be due to the fact that more children are becoming obese from poor lifestyle choices.
- Recognizing diabetic symptoms in men.
- Diabetes and Sexual and Urologic Problems
- Diabetes and Sexual Health in Men