Type 2 diabetes is an increasingly prevalent disorder in the United States. It’s a chronic condition, meaning while it can be managed, it can’t necessarily be cured.
There are a number of factors potentially contributing to type 2 diabetes. Many of the risk factors for this condition, such as a sedentary lifestyle, are also risk factors for other chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease.
The steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes or to manage it if you already have it are similar to the steps that will help you live a healthier lifestyle overall.
The following are things men should know about risk factors and complications of type 2 diabetes.
Understanding the Condition
With type 2 diabetes, the way your body metabolizes glucose, which is sugar, is affected. Your body might resist insulin effects, or it might not produce enough insulin to keep your glucose levels normal.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes tend to develop slowly and may include increased thirst and frequent urination. Fatigue, blurred vision, and frequent infections can also occur.
There are many risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including:
- Weight: The primary risk factor is being overweight, although you don’t have to be to develop the condition.
- Fat distribution: If you seem to have fat primarily in your abdomen, you’re more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than someone who, for example, stores fat in their thighs or hips. For men, if you have a waist circumference above 40 inches, you’re more at risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Being sedentary: If you aren’t physically active regularly, it ups your chances of developing diabetes. Exercise and movement help weight control which in turn reduces your risk.
- Family history: If you have a close family member like a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes, your risk is higher.
- Race or ethnicity: While researchers don’t understand why, certain ethnicities, including black and Hispanic, are at an increased risk of developing diabetes.
- Age: As you age, and particularly once you’re over the age of 45, you’re at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This could be linked to the fact that older people may gain weight and exercise less.
- High blood pressure
There are a number of potential complications linked to type 2 diabetes, especially if it’s not well-controlled. Some of these complications can lead to disability or even death.
Complications of diabetes can include heart and blood vessel disease and nerve damage.
Diabetes raises the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and narrowing of blood vessels.
Excess sugar can lead to nerve damage, also known as neuropathy.
Other complications to be aware of include:
- Eye damage and conditions like glaucoma and cataracts. The blood vessels of the eyes can also be damaged, possibly leading to blindness.
- Kidney damage may occur or kidney failure.
- When people with type 2 diabetes have a cut or infection, it may take a long time to heal.
- People with diabetes are more likely to have hearing problems.
- Certain skin infections are more common in people with type 2 diabetes, including fungal and bacterial infections.
- Obstructive sleep apnea is a potential complication, and obesity is a risk factor for this condition as well.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
Many of the things that you can do to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes are similar to what you can do if you already have it to keep it well-managed and reduce the risk of complications.
Focus first and foremost on your diet. You should choose foods that are low in calories and high in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
You should try to get at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day or aim for 15 to 30 minutes of vigorous daily activity.
Some people find that it works best for them to break their workout up into shorter sections they do throughout the day.
If you are overweight, the risk of diabetes can be significantly reduced if you lose just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight.
Finally, try to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. This is a tough one since most of us work at desk jobs, and modern lives inherently include a lot of sitting. However, the more you can move around, even if you’re not technically working out, the healthier you’re going to be. Throughout the day, including when you’re at work, try to get up and move around every 30 minutes.