Men’s Health Week 2018 (11 – 18 June) is happening at the same time as Diabetes Week this year and so Men’s Health Forum, who co-ordinate the week each year, are focusing on this increasing threat.
With growing levels of obesity in the UK, diabetes – which is closely linked with obesity – is a growing problem. With one man in 10 now suffering from the disease, over the next 20 years the number of middle aged men living with diabetes is expected to increase sharply. Men are more likely to get diabetes than women, more likely to experience complications like leg amputation and are more likely to die from the condition.
Put simply: Diabetes is a condition that causes your blood sugar levels to become too high.
Our bodies convert the food we eat into energy, and in many cases the food is transformed into our main energy source – glucose – which enters the bloodstream and powers the muscles. But all of that doesn’t happen by itself, the hormone insulin – produced by our pancreas - is needed to allow the glucose into our cells, and our bodies regulate how much is made so that we get the right amount of energy into our cells. Diabetes is when the process doesn’t work quite right.
- Feeling unusually thirsty
- Peeing more than usual, especially at night
- Feeling unusually tired
- Loss of muscle
- Frequent itching around the penis, or even thrush
- Cuts or wounds healing more slowly
- Blurred vision
- Unexplained weight loss
You should see a GP if you’re experiencing several of these symptoms together. Type 1 diabetes can appear within days, so you don’t need to have seen these symptoms for longer than a day or two before you need to visit the GP.
While treatments are very effective, and many people can live long, happy lives with diabetes taking steps to cut down your risk and avoid the condition completely is the best course of action. So, what can you do to cut down your risk?
- Keep check on your diet and keep an eye on how much sugar and carbohydrates you’re consuming.
Cut down on “free” sugars – those ones added into products when they’re made; check food labels for hidden sugars (they end in -ose, usually). You’ll be surprised at how often sugar shows up. You’ll also need to keep check of how much fruit juice you drink – whole fruit and dried fruit doesn’t contain any ‘free’ sugar – but fruit juice does, and your body absorbs the sugar in fruit juice just as it does a spoon full of sugar.
- Being overweight increases your risk – so try to stay within a healthy weight. You can ask for help from a GP or a nutritionist.
A good guide for whether you are at a healthy weight is to check your Body Mass Index or BMI. It can offer you a good guide, but used in combination with other measures – and you knowing your own body well – will make it more accurate.
- Watch how much you serve yourself and minimise snacking
Keep an eye on your portion sizes and eat regular, balanced meals with only healthy snacks in-between. You’ll help prevent the blood sugar dips which lead you to crave something sweet.
- Get moving – and do some exercise
We haven’t all got time for a PT session at the gym before work, but you can build exercise into your everyday live. Get off the bus or tram a stop early and walk the rest of the way, cycle instead of drive, use the stairs instead of the lift – or go out and play with your kids.
Some employers also have a gym, or offer a gym membership package or cycle-to-work schemes to help you keep costs under control.
Men’s Health Forum have a booklet aimed at helping you understand, and avoid, diabetes on their website.
If you’re worried about the symptoms – whether you think you might be at risk of diabetes or something else – then the best advice is to speak with a medical professional.
Everyone is different and so everyone has different experiences, risks, worries and symptoms. And for some people, those factors even change on a daily basis - but a conversation with a helpful expert is the best way to get back on top of things.
We’ve a range of guides on our blog with tips from our team on living life better and we can get you in to see someone within 24 hours of your call, and slot you in after work - so there’s no hanging about for weeks for an appointment or asking the boss for time off.
What’s more, our clinic has been designed around you with great coffee, high speed Wi-Fi and space to relax before (or after) your appointment - you don’t need private medical insurance, and our services don’t cost the earth. A GP appointment starts from just £55.
So, whether you’re worried about something you’ve spotted, or something has just been playing on your mind, give us a call on 0300 247 0121 and let’s talk about how you can live, life better.