7 Diabetes Symptoms Every Man Must Know
Warning signs men should not ignore
1. You’re so thirsty
Excessive thirst is common with type 2 diabetes—in fact, you may feel that no amount of water can quench your thirst. That’s due to rising blood glucose levels: Excess sugar builds up in your bloodstream forcing your kidneys to work harder to filter and absorb it; if they can’t keep up, they ramp up urine production. You’ll pass urine more, which can potentially lead to dehydration, so you’ll want to drink more. If you notice that you’re running to the bathroom all day or are excessively thirsty (or dealing with a dry mouth), talk to your doctor.
2. Shaving nicks don’t heal quickly
A tiny cut may seem to linger forever. “When your sugars are on their way up, it may take longer for a cut to heal,” says Sydney endocrinologist Dr Jane Holmes-Walker. “You may also notice more shaving bumps and white heads in the hair follicles in your beard. The sebaceous oil glands in your face are also vulnerable to low-grade infections when you have type 2 diabetes.”
3. Your hands and feet are numb and tingly
A more advanced complication is nerve damage, a condition called peripheral diabetic neuropathy. You may feel tingling or pins and needles in your feet, pain or numbness. You may also get a sensation that, for some, feels like walking on cotton wool or on stones, for others. Holmes-Walker says that it presents in a ‘stocking–glove’ pattern. “It happens first where your socks go on, and it may occur in your fingertips much later,” she says.
4. The tip of your penis is red and swollen
Among the many warning signs of type 2 diabetes are erectile dysfunction and a condition called balanitis. “This is most commonly due to an excess of candida, a normal resident on the skin which increases with high blood glucose levels,” says Holmes-Walker. If you experience swelling of the foreskin and tip of the penis, any pain or discharge, see your doctor. They will instruct you on the best way to keep the area clean and may recommend an antifungal or antibiotic cream depending on the source of the problem.
5. Your mood is low
Of all the problems triggered by diabetes, mood disorders are notorious. One study found that one in four people with type 2 diabetes experience depression and one in six experience anxiety. Blood glucose balance is important for maintaining a stable mood. In a 2016 US study, diabetes was associated with increased odds of depression in older men. The longer the person had been diagnosed with diabetes, the more likely they were to suffer from depression.
6. You’re seeing ‘floaters’
Although diabetes can damage eyes, it’s usually not until diabetes is more advanced that you start experiencing symptoms. Over time, high blood glucose damages blood vessels in the retina, causing them to bleed and leading to diabetic retinopathy. You may notice black floating spots dotting your field of vision, and you may also have blurred vision. It’s important to have a dilated eye exam as diabetes is a leading cause of preventable blindness.
7. Your gums are bleeding
Holmes-Walker says people with diabetes are three times more likely to develop periodontitis—an infection that damages gums and can lead to tooth loss—than those without diabetes. Red, swollen and bleeding gums are common signs of the condition. It’s important to see a dentist to get this under control, since the infection also works the other way—gum problems can increase blood glucose and lead to diabetes.