Be a man - get your health checked!

Take steps to prevent diabetes now

  • by Dr Zane Stevens
  • Oct 17, 2016
  • 383
  • Business
 Type 2 diabetes is one of the largest global health emergencies of the 21st century.

Relationship problems, depression, heart attack. In that order.

Not very attractive?

If you were told this was your future, what would you do?

Relationship problems, depression, heart attack. In that order.Not very attractive?If you were told this was your future, what would you do?

If you were told that you could prevent it, now what would you do?

 “I definitely would have done whatever I could to have stopped that from happening to me,” says 53 year old Sam. “Looking back, there were so many signs that things were going wrong. I didn’t feel right for ages – years, maybe. And it all started when I began to put on a little weight. Not a lot at first – just a bit of a tyre around my waist. It was uncomfortable, but I didn’t do anything about it, because all my friends were putting on weight and I thought it was normal for men our age. Even when I was told I had type 2 diabetes, I didn’t really pay much attention. I ate the same things. I didn’t exercise. I left my health up to an occasional handful of tablets and 6 monthly visits to the doctor.

 "It’s ironic that it took a heart attack to wake me up. Now I exercise, I watch what I eat and drink, I have lost weight and I feel better. But, because of problems remaining after my heart attack, I can’t do all the things I used to. And I really do regret not doing something about it when I had the chance!”

 Type 2 diabetes is one of the largest global health emergencies of the 21st century.

Worldwide, it is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and stroke), blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation, and a major cause of death. It affects up to 4½ million South Africans, more than half of whom are unaware that they have it, and majority of whom will be dead before the age of 60.

Unfortunately men are not proactive about their health. Diseases of lifestyle creep up slowly. Many previously fit, active men get married and, as the years go by, adopt unhealthy lifestyles due to the stresses of work, financial pressures, and trying to get ahead in a career. Health becomes far from a priority.

With regards to the diagnosis of diabetes in men, unfortunately many men tend to seek help very late. I think it’s partly because, as men, we often feel like we are supposed to be invincible and prefer to believe that diabetes or blood pressure problems would never happen to us! Adding to this is the fact that diabetes can go unnoticed for many years as the typical warning symptoms only occur once the glucose rises to extremely high levels. Or even worse, that something has been very wrong with our health is only considered when a devastating complication such as a heart attack has occurred!

Diminished interest in sex and depressed mood are also symptoms of low testosterone, which occurs twice as commonly in men with diabetes than in those without. And diabetes itself also predisposes to depression . The problem is that all of these symptoms overlap, so you don’t really connect them to one cause. 

And that’s where it starts. In fact, overweight and obesity, together with physical inactivity are the strongest risk factors for type 2 diabetes and the majority of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. It’s a big problem in our country - approximately 40% of South African men are overweight and fewer than 1 out of 4 participates in sufficient exercise! In fact less than half participate in any physical activity at all!

Men have to be told that diabetes is preventable. It’s not that difficult to make healthier food choices and do a bit of exercise! And get a regular check-up. 

Remaining balanced is key. Making time for exercise and creating a culture of healthy eating is not only important for ourselves, but serves to set an example and ensure the health of our families. Men who have risk factors for diabetes such as being overweight or having a family history of the condition should consider being screened for the condition.

 You are a man. Some health needs are specific to men. Men are prone to developing a boep, which in turn can lead to higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and low testosterone. Each one of these presents its own challenges to a healthy future, but all are manageable if they are addressed proactively or, when they do occur, early and before complications start. And the key to a healthy future is awareness of that. But men don’t talk about their health, do they? That’s not what being a man is all about. Or is it?

Be a man. Speak up. Talk to your doctor about your health before it’s too late.