Signs of diabetes in men and women are the same. However, certain signs especially those affecting male sexual health are very common in men with diabetes than those without diabetes.
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that is characterized by an elevated blood sugar (or blood glucose) level. This occurs when your body is not capable of making enough insulin, which is a hormone secreted from the pancreas and it helps glucose get into the cells in our body. This disorder can potentially lead to several abnormalities of other organs like eyes, kidneys, heart, etc.
Types of diabetes:
Following are the types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes: In this case, your immune system destroys your β-cells, which are responsible for insulin production.
- Type 2 diabetes: This type is marked by your body’s inability to utilize insulin properly. People with type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant.
- Gestational diabetes: This happens when the blood sugar level is exceedingly high during pregnancy, which usually returns to normal after delivery.
Signs of Diabetes in Men:
The three cardinal symptoms of diabetes are :
- Polydipsia (increased thirst),
- Polyphagia (hunger), and
- Polyuria (passing a lot of urine).
These symptoms are common in both women and men with diabetes. Although, men especially those working outdoors such as laborers may have more severe symptoms because of the added dehydration due to physical activity and heat.
Following are the 15 important symptoms and signs of diabetes in men:
Decreased muscle mass:
- In diabetes, your body is either not making sufficient insulin or it’s not utilizing it properly for the production of energy which is required to run all the functions in the body. In any case, the lack of energy resources compels your body to use fat stores and muscle mass to produce energy as an alternative.
- Muscle mass is greatly noticed by men compared to men. Women are more careful about their skin. This is the reason why men tend to present with reduced muscle mass and the inability to perform strenuous exercise.
- Muscle wasting is an indicator of long-standing diabetes. It also indicates that there is severe insulin deficiency.
- As mentioned above, since your body is not using glucose to gain energy and instead fat stores are being used as an alternative, this will lead to a sudden and unintended weight loss. Many people go to the doctor because of their unexplained weight loss, which is a prominent symptom of diabetes.
- Unexplained weight loss is often noticed by men when there is at least 10% weight loss. People may attribute it to dieting or reduced appetite. Some patients are often over investigated for the cause of weight loss by their doctors, not realizing that diabetes is one of the most common causes of weight loss and easily diagnosed with a simple blood glucose test.
- Because of an elevated blood sugar level, your body has to remove it in the form of urine, with the help of kidneys. Recurring urination can result in dehydration and this will consequently cause you to be thirsty.
- Increased thirst may be more common in men who are laborers are doing outdoor activities such as running etc. Because of the nature of their job, increased thirst may be attributed to excessive sweating.
- Diabetes can cause nerve damage to your urinary tract which may lead to some urologic problems including bladder control problems (urinary incontinence), kidney stones, prostate problems, urinary tract infections (UTI), less control over muscles surrounding the urethra.
- Testosterone is essentially a male sex hormone that is made in the testicles. A low level of testosterone can be an indication of diabetes. This condition is more likely to occur in the case of obesity or type 2 diabetes.
- As stated above, testosterone is a sex hormone, therefore low levels of this hormone can decrease sex drive and lead to depression and anxiety.
- Polyuria, also known as frequent urination, is a major sign of an elevated blood sugar level. In the case of diabetes, the blood glucose level is very high which causes your kidneys to filter more blood and this leads to the production of a great quantity of urine.
- Another condition that may be experienced by some men suffering from diabetes is “nocturia”, the urge to urinate more than once or twice at night.
Erectile dysfunction (ED):
- Men with this disorder are unable to maintain an erection. Men who are affected with diabetes are at a higher risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction. If this condition occurs at a younger age in men, then it can be an obvious sign of diabetes so it is recommended to get your blood sugar level checked if that’s the case.
- It has actually been characterized as an early marker of diabetes in men who are 45 years old or younger than that, by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIKKD). [Ref]
- This problem can occur in diabetic men because of nerve damage which leads to neuropathy of the bladder. In this condition, semen is secreted into the urinary bladder which will lead to less semen secretion during ejaculation. This can possibly lead to fertility issues as it can make conception a whole lot difficult.
Fatigue and exhaustion:
- Some men with diabetes may constantly complain about feeling tired and exhausted. This can be a result of blood sugar levels being too high or low. People who take stronger medications, such as insulin, for diabetes are prone to experiencing fatigue as a consequence of low blood sugar levels.
- Diabetes doesn’t just affect your insulin production but it can also affect your mood and make you irritable. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can give rise to rapid changes in the mood of a person, also called mood swings. Changes in blood sugar levels can cause irritability and anger issues. Similarly, diabetes can cause depression, anxiety, and stress.
- Another symptom of diabetes can be genital itching, if you are experiencing recurring episodes of genital itching then this can be because of a poorly maintained blood sugar level. Another condition called ‘Peyronie’s disease” (penile curvature) which is a result of insufficient blood flow because of diabetic neuropathy can also occur.
- Diabetic men can experience repeated episodes of genital thrush which is a fungal (yeast) infection. Elevated sugar levels promote the growth of yeast, which leads to infections. People who are not conscious about their blood sugar level are at a higher risk of developing yeast infections.
Slow healing of wounds:
- An elevated blood glucose level leads to nerve damage in various parts of your body. This will eventually delay wound healing in those parts of your body, especially your feet and hands as the blood flow to your hands and feet is pretty low. As a consequence, restricted or limited blood flow will slow down the healing process.
Cloudy or blurred vision:
- Excessive blood sugar level can be your biggest enemy as it tends to harm and cause nerve damage to most of your organs, just like that high blood glucose level can damage the nerves in your eyes which will lead to a blurred or foggy vision. This effect can be reversed if the body’s glucose level is maintained. Unfortunately, if your blood sugar is not corrected in time then it can most probably cause loss of vision.
- Vertigo or spinning of the surroundings is felt mostly by older people and individuals with diabetes. Vertigo can also be described by the patient as dizzy spells.
- Vertigo occurs because of a problem in the ear canals, or in the case of diabetes, it can also occur due to high blood sugars. High blood sugars cause osmotic diuresis (loss of fluids from the kidneys) that increases the blood viscosity. Viscous blood does not flow easily resulting in vertigo.
- Signs of diabetes in men may include increased thirst, hunger, excessive urination, sexual dysfunction, blurred vision, or other non-specific symptoms.
- Individuals who develop their symptoms must check their blood glucose, especially if one of their family members also has diabetes.