Diabetes is an American epidemic. The American Diabetes Association reports that 9.3 percent of the overall U.S. population is living with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and that a shocking 25.9 percent of people aged 65 and above are affected by diabetes. You read that right: a little over a quarter of the senior population in America, or roughly 11.2 million seniors, have to think about how to manage their diabetes.
But when it comes to men and diabetes, there seems to be a serious gender imbalance with their diabetes diagnoses. And as if that’s not troubling enough, research has linked some surprising diabetes symptoms in men with other, very serious, health concerns.
Men And Diabetes: Growing At Alarming Rates
The Centers for Disease Control, which has tracked diabetes data in the US since the 1980s, discovered that there was a 177 percent increase in the male rate of diabetes diagnoses in America between 1980 and 2010. The rates for women, while also on the rise during those years, was considerably lower, with an increase of only 114 percent. Although that number is also high, there is still a 63 percent imbalance tipped towards the men.
Part of the problem is that so many men live with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, or prediabetes symptoms, which can eventually manifest themselves in more severe conditions. It is estimated that nearly 8 million people in the United States, both men and women, are living with undiagnosed diabetes, which can be dangerous, especially for men.
Overlooked Diabetes Symptoms In Men
While there is overlap in the symptoms of type 2 diabetes in both men and women--such as increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue and blurred vision--there are also lesser known diabetes symptoms in men over the age of 50, which often get confused for other conditions. Those symptoms include:
- Low testosterone. Low testosterone, or “Low T,” is a condition that can affect men as they age. Research has shown that “men with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have low testosterone as men who don’t have diabetes.” Additional studies have shown that low testosterone and type 2 diabetes also seem to be connected regardless of weight, although Body Mass Index (BMI) can play a role in messing with your insulin levels. Regardless, since low testosterone has proven to be an early indicator of type 2 diabetes, be sure to talk to your doctor about running additional tests should you be diagnosed with Low T.
- Experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED). ED is defined by the Mayo Clinic as the “inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex,” and is a common side effect for men who have diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic’s webpage about ED, men and diabetes, the condition “can stem from problems caused by poor long-term blood sugar control, which damages nerves and blood vessels.”
- Heart attacks. Many people do not associate heart disease with diabetes, but research has shown that insulin resistance has a strong connection to heart health. Insulin resistance, which is often one of the more overlooked diabetes symptoms in men, “is the leading cause of pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” according to a Fox News Health report. Insulin resistance, which can be present in men for up to 20 years before becoming a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, can inflame the arteries without any signs or symptoms being present. The Fox News report cites a study from the journal Diabetes Care which found that “66 percent of patients who were treated in the emergency room for a heart attack were found to have either diabetes or abnormal glucose levels.”
Managing Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
In addition to taking certain medications that your physician may prescribe, diabetes--and many of the above symptoms--can be managed by making certain lifestyle changes, like adding more exercise to your weekly routine, quitting a smoking habit, and eating more nutritiously.
At Medical Guardian, we’re proud to serve clients living with diabetes since we’ve seen firsthand how scary a dip in blood sugar levels can be. No matter which symptoms of type 2 diabetes you are experiencing--from lightheadedness, to blurred vision, to fatigue--having a Medical Guardian medical alert device on hand can keep you connected to help in an emergency, and could help save your life.