Over fifteen million men, age 20 and over, have some form of diabetes compared to 13.4 million women in the same age range.
Signs of type 2 diabetes in men can vary. Unfortunately, many men—even those who see a doctor regularly—have never been diagnosed. If left untreated, diabetes can contribute to a variety of complications, including blindness, amputations, stroke and heart disease.
The burden is on your shoulders
As a man, you are at a higher risk than women for developing diabetes2. It’s important to know the symptoms, pay attention to your body and have your blood tested if you have any concerns. You may already be aware of some of the diabetes symptoms such as frequent urination, excess hunger or tingling feet, but here are four hidden symptoms that might not be so easy to recognize:
1. Skin darkening
If you’ve noticed a thickening and darkening of skin in your armpits, neck, groin and other folds of your body, you might not think to associate the condition with diabetes. The discoloration could be acanthosis nigricans, a condition which usually occurs in Native Americans, African Americans and Hispanics. Oftentimes, changes in skin could be the result of obesity, but they might also be a sign that you have diabetes or a high risk for developing diabetes.
2. Low Testosterone
If physical changes have caused a decline in your sex life, there could be a diabetes connection. The American Diabetes Association explains that men with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have low testosterone as a man without diabetes. Untreated, low testosterone can result in a number of symptoms that might derail no just your active love life:
- Low sex drive
- Low energy
- Erection dysfunction
- Change in lean body mass
3. Candidiasis (or thrush)
Diabetes tends to weaken the immune system, which makes it more likely for a man to develop a candida (yeast) infection, especially in the genital area. Men with thrush can experience intense itching, burning or irritation around or on the penis, the groin area in general, or in folds of the skin such as armpits or between your fingers. Signs are red, patchy areas, a cheesy-looking discharge or unpleasant smell.
4. Hearing loss
People with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss, and men are more likely than women to experience hearing loss in general. Researchers haven’t yet confirmed the connection, but they believe that diabetic hearing loss can occur due to disease-related circulatory problems which can affect blood vessels in your ears.
It’s up to you – be your own health advocate
Diabetes management begins with a diagnosis. It’s a simple matter of testing your blood glucose levels, but a busy healthcare provider might not realize that there’s a reason to test you if you don’t mention your symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, make an appointment to talk with your doctor.
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2Logue J, Walker JJ, Colhoun HM, et al. Do men develop type 2 diabetes at lower body mass indices than women?. Diabetologia. 2011;54(12):3003-6.