Type 2 Diabetes: What Men Need To Know
Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the US and affects men and women equally. It is a public health concern not just because it results in an elevated blood sugar but because it leads to serious complications including heart disease, diabetic neuropathy (a nerve disease), diabetic retinopathy (an eye disease), and diabetic nephropathy (a kidney disease).
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease that results in increased blood sugars. Its incidence is greater with age but it can affect people of all ages. Unlike type 1 diabetes, in which there is insufficient amounts of insulin released by the pancreas, people with type 2 diabetes have intact pancreases (especially in the beginning), but have problems with the way the body processes insulin.
Patients with type 2 diabetes suffer from “insulin resistance.” This means that the cells of the body do not recognize insulin as being able to put the glucose in the bloodstream and instead, glucose builds up, leading to hyperglycemia.
What Are The Symptoms Of Type 2 Diabetes?
If the diabetes is mild, there may be no symptoms. This is why it is important to have your blood glucose levels checked if you believe you are at risk for type 2 diabetes.
If the disease is allowed to become severe, you may experience the following symptoms:
• Frequent urination—this is because the body needs to get rid of the glucose through your urinary tract.
• Increased thirst—more urination means that you will be thirstier than normal
• Increased appetite—because your cells do not use glucose very well for fuel, you will feel as though you need more food to give your cells enough fuel for metabolism
• Weight loss—your body is not using fuel as efficiently so you waste the nutrition you take in and begin to lose weight, even if you are eating
• Tiredness—because your cells are deprived of glucose, you may feel more tired than normal
• Blurry vision—with high blood sugars, fluid may be taken from the lens of the eye so that you cannot focus when you are trying to see things
• Frequent infections or slow healing—diabetes affects your immune system so you have more infections and heal from injuries more slowly
• Patches of dark skin—diabetics can develop patches of dark skin, also known as acanthosis nigricans, which involves the skin around the neck and in the armpits
Complications Of Type 2 Diabetes
High blood sugar levels can damage various areas of the body. Here are some complications of type 2 diabetes you should be aware of:
• Heart attack. The elevated blood sugar contributes to cholesterol plaque formation in the blood vessels leading to the heart. This can result in getting a heart attack.
• Stroke. Similar to a heart attack, the elevated blood sugar can cause plaques to build up in the blood vessels leading to the brain. A blood clot can form in the narrowed area, causing a stroke.
• Peripheral neuropathy. The high blood sugars cause damage to the nerves of the feet and sometimes the hands, so that you have burning or tingling pain in these areas.
• Diabetic nephropathy. The kidneys can be damaged because of high blood sugar, resulting in eventual chronic kidney failure.
• Diabetic retinopathy. High blood sugars can cause proliferation of blood vessels in the retina of the eye, resulting in reduced vision.
What You Can Do To Combat Type 2 Diabetes
There are medications you can take that improve insulin resistance so that the glucose can enter the cells and provide fuel for metabolic processes. You should also eat a healthy diet that is low in simple sugars and that has only enough calories to keep you at a normal weight.
You can also help maintain a normal weight by exercising on a daily basis, usually 30 minutes of aerobic exercise like walking, swimming, or jogging every day.