Last month, we discussed how diabetes can be especially rough for women. It’s scary to know that heart disease, kidney disease and depression are all issues women with diabetes battle more often than men– but that doesn’t mean men with diabetes can breeze on by when it comes to their health. In fact, men with diabetes suffer more from some diabetes-related health problems than women, like amputation and retinopathy.
In general, men in the past were not as active at taking care of their health as women. But times have changed. Men today have a stronger grasp of their disease and are more proactively managing their health.
This week is National Men’s Health Week, and Father’s Day is in just a few days. As a gift to all of you dads out there (and husbands, and brothers and nephews . . .) we present you with a challenge: to empower yourself. That means getting informed about diabetes health complications and adopting healthier habits. To get you started, here’s a list of some of these health obstacles and suggestions.
Serious Health Complications
Diabetes can cause far-reaching health implications like heart disease, nerve damage and kidney damage. Deaths from heart disease in men with diabetes have decreased by only 13 percent compared to a 36 percent decrease in men without diabetes.
Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the eye, potentially leading to blindness. Eye disorders can include retinopathy, which men develop more quickly than women, glaucoma and cataracts.
Neuropathy, or nerve damage, is also very common, as about half of people with diabetes have some sort of nerve damage. Amputation rates from diabetes-related problems are 1.4 to 2.7 times higher in men than women with diabetes.
Many men with diabetes also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea or OSA, a breathing disorder where the airway is blocked when the mouth and throat relax during sleep, often for more than 10 seconds. Being male makes you at greater risk. Any wives out there who think their husbands snore like a freight train? It could be OSA and it could increase the risk for high blood pressure or even heart attack and stroke if left untreated.
Sex is an important part of life and relationships, but diabetes can affect a man’s sex life. Some men with diabetes have impotence, also called erectile dysfunction or ED. Low testosterone is also a common condition that often goes undiagnosed because its symptoms are similar to other conditions. If you have type 2 diabetes, you are twice as likely to suffer from low testosterone as a man without diabetes.
Studies show that people with diabetes have an elevated risk of depression, and the stress of daily diabetes management can build. If you’ve been feeling sad or down in the dumps, don’t hesitate to reach out to others facing similar struggles in the diabetes community. Talk to your doctor if your depression worsens to determine if it is being caused by a medical condition or lifestyle factors.
Feeling discouraged? Don’t, because there IS good news: these complications can be avoided or effectively treated. A healthy diet and regular exercise are the foundations for the empowered man taking charge of his diabetes. Don’t make this too complicated for you, though. Simple lifestyle changes like eating more whole grains or slipping afternoon walks into your daily routine can help improve your health.
So remember to get active, get informed and talk with your health care team if you have any questions about your diabetes . . . and you’ll be one step closer to being empowered.
Happy Father’s Day!