This year's focus of Men's Health Awareness Week is diabetes...
It might not be something you've spent a lot of time thinking about before but did you know that diabetes affects more men than women?
A lot of the time, men are less likely to nip into the doctors and talk about their health and how they're feeling. But honestly, there's nothing to be scared of.
Here's everything you need to know about diabetes:
1. There are two different types.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the pancreas, leaving the body incapable of producing insulin. About 10% of people with diabetes in the UK have this type. It's still not clear why this happens.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance and usually develops later in your life. Genetics, old age and inactivity all influence type 2, although you are at a higher risk if you are overweight. Having a lot of sugar and junk food with a lack of exercise is one way to get this type of diabetes. Chances of getting type 2 can be minimised by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. This doesn't mean becoming the next Mo Farah, just being active!
2. It causes an inability to process sugar.
We all need glucose (a sugar) in our bodies and insulin to process it. If you have diabetes you miss or don't have enough insulin to process the glucose properly, leading to high blood glucose concentration. For this reason Type 1 diabetes have to inject insulin and type 2 diabetics take blood lowering medication and/or insulin. It can get a bit confusing so watch this video to get a clearer understanding. Diabetes is a lifelong condition but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy your life...
3. There are some obvious signs to look out for.
If you notice any of these, book an appointment with your doctor:
- regularly feeling thirsty
- always feeling tired
- getting up during most nights to go to the toilet
- experiencing blurred vision
- sudden loss of muscle or weight
- wounds / cuts take a long time to heal
- genital itching
4. It is manageable.
Living with diabetes isn't the easiest thing in the world but it is possible. One of the biggest ways is keeping on top of your carbohydrate intake. For type 1 this means calculating the amount of ingested carbohydrate and taking insulin accordingly. For type 2, it might mean a healthy diet with a limited amount of carbohydrates. You also have to check your blood sugar levels regularly to keep them within healthy limits.
Living with a lifelong health condition is hard and everyone deals with it differently - if you ever feel overwhelmed by your health then you should seek some support:
- Make an appointment with your GP
- Diabetes UK - 0345 123 2399 or email@example.com
- Samaritans - 116 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org