The rate of diabetes in the U.S. has risen dramatically, with one of the biggest jumps in type 2 diabetes among men. The American Diabetes Association statistics from 2020 show 37.3 million Americans, or 1 out of every ten people, have diabetes. Unfortunately, of the 37.3 million, one out of every four does not know or has not yet been diagnosed with the disease.
There are many warning signs of diabetes people should be aware of, but for men, there are two signs often signaling the possibility of having this chronic disease.
- Weight gain in the abdominal area
Whenever a man gains excess weight, it almost always accumulates in the abdominal area, also known as central obesity. One thing known is men who put on the pounds are more at risk of developing diabetes than women. Excess fat pounds gained in men accumulate deep within the abdominal area known as belly fat. Belly fat will surround major organs like the liver and pancreas. This deeply stored fat has a special name, called visceral fat. Visceral fat is harmful and worse for your health than fat located anywhere else in the body. This type of fat makes it hard for your body to use its insulin (insulin resistance) and can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Women store fat more directly below the skin, known as subcutaneous fat. They also store fat around the hips and buttocks instead of in the abdominal area.
Any man with a waist circumference of 40 inches or greater has too much visceral fat and is more likely to develop diabetes.
Regardless of whether a man has diabetes, having visceral fat puts him in danger of other serious chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and stroke. The solution is to lose weight by eating a healthy diet and regular exercise, helping to reduce his risk of developing diabetes. However, even a 5-7 percent weight loss can significantly impact his blood sugar levels.
- Erectile Dysfunction
The second sign a man may have diabetes is his sex life or lack of – erectile dysfunction. Men are more likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED) if they have diabetes. ED is when men cannot achieve an erection, or the erection is weak and does not last long enough.
For a man to achieve an erection, good blood flow to the penis and a good nerve supply are necessary. Men with diabetes may experience erectile dysfunction because of problems caused by poor long-term blood sugar control causing damage to nerves and blood vessels. The nerve damage is called neuropathy. The damaged blood supply affects the stimulation of nerves required to achieve and maintain an erection and blood flow to the penis.
Any man experiencing erectile dysfunction should discuss this with their doctor so they can assess and identify what might be the underlying cause of this issue. It may or may not be due to diabetes. Still, a Hemoglobin A1C test, a fasting plasma glucose test, and an oral glucose tolerance test can rule out the possibility of having this condition.
Recognizing signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes
Everyone should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of diabetes. The earlier the diagnosis, the sooner you can start treating it helping reduce your risk of serious medical complications.
Here are other common symptoms of diabetes besides abdominal weight gain and ED:
- Frequent urination
- Feeling thirsty
- Feeling hungry
- Feeling fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Slow to heal cuts or bruises
- Frequent infections
- Erectile dysfunction
- Unexplained weight loss (usually in people with type 1 diabetes)
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet (type 2 diabetes)
Any man experiencing several of the symptoms listed above in addition to abdominal weight gain or ED should discuss the possibility of having type 2 diabetes with his healthcare provider and ask to be tested for it.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.