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Why Should I Learn About Diabetes? | Men’s Health Week

This week is Men’s Health Week and considering 1 in 10 men now have this metabolic disorder, with the count for middle-aged men expected to dramatically increase over the next 20 years, the focus is on DIABETES [1]

Men's Health Week stand up to sugar diabetes awareness poster for men's health

What is diabetes?

There are 2 streams of diabetes mellitus that you have probably heard about before; Type 1 (also referred to as Insulin-dependent) and Type 2.

Type 1:

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder which only counts for 5-10% of the diabetic population. In a healthy body, insulin is produced in the pancreas and it moves glucose from digested food out of the blood stream and into cells, where it is broken down for energy. With this type of diabetes, the body’s own ‘B-cells’ (which help with insulin production) are attacked in the pancreas by the body itself. Therefore, the body cannot produce enough insulin to control blood sugar levels [2].

Why does this happen?

The autoimmune destruction of the body’s ‘B-Cells’ is often caused by genetic reasons. However, it is thought that an environmental trigger is involved with the condition (the exact environmental factor has not yet been identified) [2].

Type 2:

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of diabetic adults in the UK [3]. Similarly to Type 1, Type 2 diabetes is caused by a problem with the hormone insulin. However, with this type there is no autoimmune destruction of cells. The problems with insulin include a resistance and a lack of insulin; often a decreased amount rather than a complete depletion, at least in the initial stages of the condition. The symptoms can sometimes be managed by lifestyle and dietary changes or medicines, with no insulin medication required. Less frequently insulin administration is required for controlling blood sugar levels but with this type of diabetes it is less common that the administration is essential for survival [2].

Why does this happen?

Type 2 diabetes has been linked to being overweight, inactive or having a family history of Type 2 diabetes [4].

 

When should you visit your GP? What are the symptoms?

Type 2 diabetes symptoms are quite general so often go unnoticed and undiagnosed for years before being recognised. Meanwhile, Type 1 diabetes can progress over a shorter period of days or weeks. Symptoms include:

  • Abnormal thirst
  • Feeling tired
  • Increased urination; particularly during the night
  • Weight loss and loss of muscle mass
  • Genital itching, or frequent episodes of thrush
  • Slow healing of wounds
  • Blurred vision [3]

If left untreated and unmonitored, diabetes can lead to serious health implications including to your eyes, heart and nerves. Whilst there is currently no known prevention or cure for Type 1 diabetes, the condition can be managed after diagnosis with life-long treatment. This includes insulin injections or an insulin pump to balance with dietary intake and physical activity. Meanwhile, those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes may be able to prevent the development or even reverse their diabetes through lifestyle changes if it is caught early enough [5]. Alternatively, the GP may prescribe various medication to help keep your blood sugars as normal as possible with Type 2 diabetes; insulin is only required in rare cases when other medications no longer work [6].

 

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have diabetes seek medical advice and for more information visit the NHS, Diabetes.co.uk & Men’s Health Week webpages.

 

References:

[1] Men’s Health Forum. (2017, November). One In Ten: the male diabetes crisis. Retrieved from https://shop.menshealthforum.org.uk/products/one-in-ten-the-male-diabetes-crisis?_ga=2.236581634.2077520343.1527849683-181699044.1527849683

[2] American Diabetes Association. (2010). Diagnosis and classification of diabetes

mellitus. Diabetes Care, 33(1), 62–69. 

[3] NHS. (2016, July 12). Diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diabetes/

[4] NHS. (2017, August 8). What is type 2 diabetes? Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-2-diabetes/

[5] Diabetes.co.uk The Global Diabetes Community. (Date unknown). Diabetes types. Retrieved from https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-types.html

[6] NHS. (2017, August, 8). Type 2 diabetes: Understanding medication. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-2-diabetes/understanding-medication/

 

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