Troubling Symptoms Of Diabetes In Men: Dont Ignore Them Any Longer
Diabetes is a growing problem that currently affects 1 in 11 adults worldwide.
Type 2 diabetes makes up 90-95% of all cases. Its typically a result of poor lifestyle and diet coupled with genetic factors.
Symptoms often develop gradually and you may not even notice them. In fact, 1 in 3 people dont realize they have diabetes.
However, early diagnosis is essential for protecting cardiovascular health. A 3-year delay in diagnosis increases your relative risk of heart disease by 29%, while a 6-year delay increases it by 38% .
Men tend to ignore symptoms and delay a doctors visit much longer than women. So this article looks at 11 major signs and symptoms of diabetes in men.
How Are Diabetes And Erectile Dysfunction Related
For men, type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to an increased risk of erectile dysfunction, or ED for short. Based on data from a survey study, the risk is 50% higher for men with diabetes compared to men without diabetes, regardless of what type of diabetes they have. While many men may develop ED as they age, those who have diabetes may develop ED 5 10 years earlier than most.
It is important to note that ED can be related to insufficient blood flowing to penis , emotional issues such as depression , or problems with the nerves to the penis . Diabetes can cause or make these issues worse. As such, patients with diabetes who experience ED tend to notice that the problem gradually gets worse.
Current medical knowledge has identified several likely causes in patients specifically with diabetes.
How Does Diabetes Affect The Urinary Tract And Genitals
Diabetics have more frequent urinary tract infections because of factors including improper functioning of the infection-fighting white blood cells, glucose in the urine, and compromised blood flow. Diabetics have a greater risk of asymptomatic bacteriuria and pyuria , cystitis , and pyelonephritis .
Impaired bladder emptying further complicates the potential for infections. Diabetics have more serious complications of pyelonephritis, including kidney abscess, emphysematous pyelonephritis , and urosepsis .
Fourniers gangrene is a soft tissue infection of the male genitals that often requires emergency surgery, can be disfiguring and has a very high mortality rate. More than 90% of patients with Fourniers gangrene are diabetic. Diabetic patients also have an increased risk of infection with surgical procedures, particularly those involving prosthetic implants, including penile implants, artificial urinary sphincters, and mesh implants for pelvic organ prolapse.
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Bladder And Urine Issues
Bladder and urinary problems also arise from nerve damage.
More than half of men with diabetes experience these common issues:
- An Overactive Bladder: Nerves can squeeze the bladder, leading to frequent urination, a sudden and strong need to urinate, or incontinence .
- Inability to Control Urine: Diabetes can affect the muscle control to hold urine in the bladder. Consequently, the bladder muscles may become either loose, allowing leakage, or so tight they have trouble releasing urine.
Why does this happen?: Nerves controlling bladder function and control can be damaged by poor blood sugar control. This may result in a frequent or sudden need to urinate, or incontinence.
Diabetes And Its Effect On The Body
Persons with diabetes have abnormally high blood sugar. The hormone insulin manages the amount of glucose in the blood. Persons with diabetes are unable to create or use insulin effectively. This can lead to a range of symptoms like fatigue, fluctuations in weight, frequent urination, and more. Diabetes can also lead to severe complications like heart attack, stroke, vision loss, and even dementia. Men, in particular, will have lower testosterone levels. Try these 3 helpful diabetes management tips to increase the chances of fertility.
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What Kind Of Help Is Available
Cheng: For women, it depends on the underlying cause. If they are experiencing vaginal dryness, prescription and over-the-counter lubricants can be . If decreased sexual response is an issue, it may to experiment with activities other than intercourse. If there are problems in your relationship, a psychologist or sex therapist can help. Kegel exercises, which strengthen the pelvic muscles, can also improve sexual response.
Bebb: For men, the main treatment is PDE5 inhibitors . Approximately 70-80 per cent of men will find these medications helpful. Many men with ED describe a feeling of having failed. This sentiment can be lessened by avoiding a focus on penetrative intimacy as the only method of emotional and sexual connection with ones partner.
Yellowish Scaly Patches On And Around Your Eyelids
These develop when you have high fat levels in your blood. It can also be a sign that your diabetes is poorly controlled.The medical name for this condition is xanthelasma.
- Tell your doctor about the yellowish scaly patches around your eyes.
- Talk with your doctor about how to better control your diabetes. Controlling diabetes can clear the scaly patches.
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Reduced Strength And Loss Of Muscle Mass
Unexplained loss of muscle mass may be a sign of high sugar levels and diabetes. If blood sugar levels remain at high levels for relatively long periods during the day, the body will start to break down fat and muscle for energy.
The resulting weight loss is usually most noticeable in people with type 1 diabetes.
However, it can also affect people with type 2 diabetes that has gone undiagnosed for a long period of time.
Diabetes And Erectile Dysfunction
If youre having difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, this is called erectile dysfunction. Its not a disease, but a symptom of another problem, which might be physical, psychological, or a mixture of both.
Erectile dysfunction is very common.
How common is erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes?
Erectile dysfunction is more common in men who are overweight or who have heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. These are all common conditions in people with diabetes.
If you have diabetes, youre twice as likely to experience erection problems.
How can I prevent erectile dysfunction with diabetes?
Erectile dysfunction is more likely to happen when blood sugar levels arent well controlled. Keeping blood sugar and blood lipids normal is important to prevent nerve and blood vessel damage to the penis.
Not smoking and drinking less alcohol can also help prevent erection problems.
How is erectile dysfunction treated with diabetes?
First, you need to focus on your diabetes and any other related conditions, such as high blood pressure.
Once your diabetes is properly controlled, the first treatment for erection problems is usually an oral medication, such as Viagra. If youve got diabetes, this medication has about a 50% chance of working. If oral medicines dont work, there are other treatments that you can explore, including penis injections and surgery.
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Monitor Your Blood Sugar Level
“What gets measured gets managed.” A diabetic must check and monitor blood sugar levels on daily basis to avoid any sudden trigger. Checking your blood sugar first thing in the morning should be your priority when you are living with diabetes. Keeping a check on your numbers will improve your ability to manage diabetes.
Can Sexual And Bladder Problems Be Symptoms Of Diabetes
Yes. Changes in sexual function or bladder habits may be a sign that you have diabetes. Nerve damage caused by diabetes, also called diabetic neuropathy, can damage parts of your bodylike your genitals or urinary tract. For example, men with diabetes may develop erectile dysfunction 10 to 15 years earlier than men without diabetes.1
Talk with a health care professional if you have any symptoms of diabetes, including sexual and bladder problems.
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What Kind Of Effect Does Good Management Of Blood Sugar Levels Have On Sexual Health
Cheng: Managing your diabetes welldrinking alcohol in moderation, getting enough exercise, ensuring you have a nutritious diet, and not smokingcan improve all areas of your life, including your sex life.
Bebb: Good control of blood sugar levels can lessen the risk of ED. While there is a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes, weight gain and a sedentary lifestyle . Paying attention to these factors not only helps in the overall management of type 2 diabetes, but can help prevent it or cause it to go into remission, and can lessen the risk of complications such as ED.
Ways To Fight The Problem
Many health complications caused by diabetes can be addressed and treated. The first thing to do is discuss your specific symptoms with your physician. You also need to openly address sexual problems with your partner at home. If you are embarrassed or find it too difficult to share the issues with your doctor, you can write them down or email your doctor in advance that you want to share some sensitive information with them.
There are certain actions you can take to fight high blood sugar. They include:
- Eating a balanced;diet;with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains
- Avoiding excess sugar and calories
- Quitting smoking
- Exercising regularly just walking for 30 minutes a day can make a big difference in lowering your blood sugar
- Maintaining a healthy weight. Even losing two to three pounds per year helps battle type 2 diabetes in the long run.
Weight control may help both control diabetes and directly reduce urological side effects, Nguyen says.
If you think you may be at risk for diabetes or are experiencing some of the symptoms of the disease, talk to your;primary care;physician.
If you are local to Southern California and are in search of a primary care physician, call; ;or visit;;to schedule an appointment.
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Extremely Dry Itchy Skin
Dry, itchy skin
If you have diabetes, youre more likely to have dry skin. High blood sugar can cause this. If you have a skin infection or poor circulation, these could also contribute to dry, itchy skin.
- Tell your doctor about your extremely dry skin. Gaining better control of diabetes can reduce dryness.
- If you continue to have dry skin after you gain better control of your diabetes, a dermatologist can help.
How Common Are Sexual Problems Among Men And Women With Diabetes Compared To The Average Population
Cheng: Various studies report a wide range of sexual dysfunction in women with type 1 or type 2 diabetesabout 35-70 per cent. Among women who do not have diabetes, the average rate of sexual dysfunction is about 40 per cent.;
Bebb: Erectile dysfunction affects approximately 35-45 per cent of men with diabetes. Studies suggest that after 20 years of type 1 diabetes, approximately 50 per cent of men will have ED. In the general population, about five per cent have ED by age 40, and this increases to 15-20 per cent by age 70.
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Yellow Reddish Or Brown Patches On Your Skin
This skin condition often begins as small raised solid bumps that look like pimples. As it progresses, these bumps turn into patches of swollen and hard skin. The patches can be yellow, reddish, or brown.
You may also notice:
- The surrounding skin has a shiny porcelain-like appearance
- You can see blood vessels
- The skin is itchy and painful
- The skin disease goes through cycles where it is active, inactive, and then active again
- Get tested for diabetes, if you have not been diagnosed.
- Work with your doctor to better control your diabetes.
- See a dermatologist about your skin. Necorbiosis lipodica is harmless, but it can lead to complications.
Erectile Dysfunction Is A Common Symptom Of Diabetes In Men
is the inability to have or maintain an erection.
Men with diabetes are at a greater risk; in fact, 20 to 75% experience ED.
Its also been recognized by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases as an early marker of diabetes in younger men, particularly those 45 years and younger.
If you experience ED, especially at a younger age, diabetes may be the cause.
Of course, its not always the reason. ED can be the result of many other factors, such as high blood pressure, stress and kidney disease, as well as simply performance anxiety.
Why does this happen?: Small blood vessels and nerves to the genitals act automatically to increase blood flow and relax smooth muscle. If the blood vessels and nerves are damaged due to high blood sugar, it can cause erectile dysfunction.
Open Sores And Wounds
Having high blood sugar for a long time can lead to poor circulation and nerve damage. You may have developed these if youve had uncontrolled diabetes for a long time.
Poor circulation and nerve damage can make it hard for your body to heal wounds. This is especially true on the feet. These open wounds are called diabetic ulcers.
Diabetes and feet
- Get immediate medical care for an open sore or wound.
- Work with your doctor to better control your diabetes.
When To See A Dermatologist
Diabetes can cause many other skin problems. Most skin problems are harmless, but even a minor one can become serious in people who have diabetes. A board-certified dermatologist can recognize skin problems due to diabetes and help you manage them.
Are all dermatologists board certified?
No. See what it takes to become board certified.
ImagesImage 1: Image Courtesy of Clark C. Otley, MD. All Rights Reserved
Images 3, 7, 8, 9: Used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
Image 2 from DermNetNZ
Some images used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
ReferencesCohen Sabban, EN. Cutaneous manifestations of diabetes mellitus from A to Z. Focus session presented at: 74th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology; March 4-8, 2016; Washington D.C.
Duff M, Demidova O, et al. Cutaneous manifestations of diabetes mellitus. Clinical Diabetes. 2015;33:40-8.
Kalus AA, Chien AJ, et al. Diabetes mellitus and other endocrine disorders. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatricks Dermatology in General Medicine . McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008:1461-70.
McKinley-Grant L, Warnick M, et al. Cutaneous manifestations of systemic disease. In: Kelly AP and Taylor S. Dermatology for Skin of Color. . The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. China, 2009:481-4.
Morgan AJ and Schwartz RA. Diabetic dermopathy: A subtle sign with grave implications. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008;58:447-51.
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Is There A Test To Diagnose Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes
Your doctor or other healthcare provider will order urine and blood tests find out if you have diabetes. There are several different types of blood tests used to diagnose diabetes.
- Fasting blood sugar test: After fasting for 12-hours a glucose level is checked in your blood. If it is high, it is indicative of diabetes.
- Hemoglobin A1C test: This test tells your doctor how your average blood glucose level has been over the past 2-3 months.
- Normal ranges for HbA1c are between 4% and 5.6%.
- HbA1c levels that range from 5.7% to 6.4% indicates increased risk of diabetes.
- HbA1c levels higher than 6.5% indicate diabetes, while higher percentages indicate either worsening diabetic disease or poor response to diabetic treatments.
- Random blood sugar test: This is a test of your blood sugar at the moment your blood is drawn, but this number can vary greatly based on when you last ate.
- Oral glucose tolerance test: This test is rarely used in men, but it measures your bodys response to a large amount of glucose.
When To See A Doctor
According to a study published in the September 2010 issue of the journal Diabetes Care, only 19 percent of women and 47 percent of men with diabetes had discussed their sexual health with their doctors.
However, sexual health problems are not inevitable with diabetes. The study also found that a significant number of men and women with diabetes, aged 5785 years, engaged in sexual activity 23 times a week.
People with diabetes who have concerns or questions about their sexual health should contact their endocrinologist or doctor.
Examples of questions to ask include:
- What do I need to know to better manage my diabetes?
- What other health problems do I have that may be affecting my sexual health?
- What medications am I taking that could be affecting my sex life?
A doctor may also recommend seeing a counselor or therapist to help improve self-esteem and overall self-perception. Counseling for couples can also be beneficial.
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Having High Sugar Levels For A Long Period Of Time Can Cause Problems In How You Have Sex Called Sexual Dysfunction
Most people will have sexual problems at some point in their lives, whether they have diabetes or not. And having diabetes doesnt mean you will automatically have a problem. But people with diabetes are more at risk of sexual dysfunction . It’s;one of the complications of diabetes, and happens because of high blood sugar levels, as well as high blood pressure and blood fats .
Having high sugar levels for a period of time can damage your blood vessels and nerves, including the ones that supply your penis. This can restrict the amount of blood flowing to your sexual organs, so you can lose some sensation. This could mean you have difficulty getting aroused, both physically and in how you feel.
Sex can be an important part of our lives, but it’s;something we still struggle to talk about. Getting the time and support to talk about sexual problems with a healthcare professional is one of your 15 essential healthcare checks. This the care and support youre entitled to, so if youre not getting this type of care and you need it, dont be afraid to ask your healthcare team. Theyre here to help.
Here well take you through some types of sexual problems in men. This information can help you manage any problems you may have now, or reduce your risk of developing them in the future. And if you’re looking for information about;sexual problems in women, we’ve got that too.