Salt Lake City, Utah (Good Things Utah) Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how the body converts food to energy and it’s estimated that it affects around 37 million Americans.
While anyone can be at risk of diabetes, it affects men in some specific ways, Erectile dysfunction and urinary and bladder problems are potential risks for men with diabetes. Fortunately, you can often treat—or in some cases prevent—diabetes through lifestyle changes and working with your doctor.
It’s National Diabetes Awareness Month.
Put simply, diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how the body converts food to energy.
Specifically, diabetes occurs when your blood sugar, or glucose, is too high, which can cause a number of potentially serious health concerns, including kidney disease, eye problems, and even heart disease.
There are several different types of diabetes, that can describe how the condition is caused, or what the best course of treatment or management could be.
- Type 1 occurs when your body doesn’t produce insulin, and it represents between 5% -10% percent of diabetes cases. Currently, it is not known how to prevent Type 1 diabetes, but you can work with your doctor to treat and manage the condition.
- Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes, affecting upwards of 95% of those with diabetes, and occurs when your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. It can be delayed, or even prevented, with healthy lifestyle choices.
- Two other types include gestational diabetes and prediabetes:
- Gestational diabetes refers to someone who’s never had the condition developing it during pregnancy, and then the condition goes away again once they give birth.
- Finally, there’s prediabetes. This is when your blood sugar levels are high, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. It’s estimated that nearly 100 million US adults have prediabetes, with nearly 80 million of them not even being aware of it.
All told – It’s estimated that over 37 million Americans have diabetes and around 7 million people have it and don’t even know it.
This condition affects different people; Let’s talk about risk factors!
Depending on the type of diabetes, there are certain risk factors, or populations, that may be more at-risk. Type 1 risk factors aren’t quite as clear as Type 2, but age and family history are both thought to be factors.
If you’re over the age of 45, overweight, have a family history of the condition, or aren’t physically active, you may be more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Men are also more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes at a lower weight than women.
So diabetes is a greater concern for men?
Not entirely, but one of the key risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes is the amount of fat stored in your belly, which is more prevalent in men than women. While diabetes puts everyone with the condition at a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and other conditions, some problems predominately affect men with diabetes.
Let’s talk about those “other conditions…”
While erectile dysfunction, or ED, is common in middle-aged and older men generally, men with diabetes are three times more likely to have ED. Also, nerve damage as a result of diabetes can lead to an overactive bladder, and male incontinence.
The risk of urinary tract infections can also increase. If you have diabetes or your doctor has you on a program to decrease your risk, suffering from any of these conditions could mean that it’s time to change your treatment course.
Is it possible to treat or – or even prevent – diabetes?
Working closely with your doctor is the first, best step. They’ll be able to consider both your specific risk factors and other things like family history to decide on the best course of treatment or preventative measure.
Part of that plan will likely include keeping your blood sugar levels close to your target to avoid or lessen nerve and blood vessel damage – which, again, can lead to the complications discussed previously.
Overall healthy habits will help decrease your risk, too – staying active, eating healthy, and staying on top of your blood sugar levels.
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