Changing food habits and lifestyles of people, good or bad, have greatly impacted them. And at times, it can take a toll on their health, weakening their immune system and getting diagnosed with certain diseases. Although diabetes has become a common disease in today’s world, it has different impacts both on men and women. Women can have some specific diabetes symptoms, which can prove to be more complicated.
As women are generally associated with other health issues such as PCOS, it gets even more complicated for them once they are diagnosed with diabetes. The current guidelines from the American Diabetes Association suggest that women should ask about screenings if they have PCOS or if they are pregnant or are planning to be.
“We have diabetes, it gets to come along with us, it doesn’t get to stop us.”– Chris Olsen
The Health Capital brings to you this blog associated with diabetes in women, that will help women be aware of the diabetes-related issues and the ways with which they can keep their bodies under control. Our aim is to reach out to more and more women and spread awareness and knowledge about the disease.
Understanding Diabetes in Women
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that occurs when levels of blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, are too high. An exceeding increase of glucose in the body can cause serious issues, particularly for women. The statistics show that 1 out of every 9 women in the world has diabetes. The complications related to diabetes in women are very much dissimilar from that of diabetic men. These may include:
- Heart disease
- Worse outcomes after a heart attack
- Kidney disease
Studies show that African-American, Hispanic/Latina, American-Indian, and Asian or Pacific women are more likely to have diabetes than white women. Regarding the nature of the disease, diabetes is one of those diseases that doesn’t show illness on the outside while your body keeps getting affected from the inside.
Diabetes Symptoms in Women
The diabetes symptoms in women vary depending on how much their blood sugar level is elevated. At times, the warning signs can be so mild that you don’t even notice them. If you have any of the following diabetes symptoms, see a doctor and get your blood sugar level tested:
- Extreme fatigue: fatigue and tiredness are not the same. When a person feels tired, she usually feels better after some rest. Fatigue causes pain in the body, particularly in the shoulders, back, hips, hands, and legs that results from high blood sugar levels.
- Neuropathy: diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that occurs if you have diabetes. This refers to tingling numbness in the feet and burning in the feet. Women cannot feel sensations in the nerves of hands and feet.
- Sleep problems: studies show that one out of two people with diabetes has sleep problems due to unstable blood sugar levels. Increased urination due to an increase in thirst leads to disturbance in sleep during the night. All these are caused by fluctuating sugar levels.
- Urinary tract infection: due to frequent urination, women may face Valvo Vaginal Candidiasis, a fungal infection, that causes itching and burning urination.
- Sexual dysfunction: high blood sugar can cause damage to blood vessels in your vagina. This leads to a lack of lubrication, further giving rise to fungal infections.
- Weight gain: Although women gain weight when the body is reacting to the illness, once they are diagnosed, they begin to lose weight significantly.
- Irregular menstrual cycle: the hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle can also affect the diabetic person.
- PCOS problems: women with PCOS face hormonal imbalance, like abnormal hair growth on the face and excessive hair loss on the scalp. They also get an increased eruption of acne and other skin disorders. Getting boils in the underarms, under the breast area, and in the genitals.
What is a normal diabetes level?
The ranges of the blood glucose level have kept changing over the years. Initially normal glucose level was less than 120. But speaking of the current scenario, the normal glucose level is less than 95.
In case the glucose level rises above 95, you are at risk of getting diabetes. The range of 135-140 or exceeding is the diabetic range. Measuring the sugar level comes quite handy. People with diabetes can get a finger stick test or blood serum analysis to determine blood sugar typically 8 to 10 hours before eating or 8 to 10 hours after the last meal. Maintaining a normal glucose level is essential to combat diabetes.
Types of Diabetes
Every woman is different from the other. Hence, the way their body functions also differs in many ways. Some may have a regular menstrual cycle while others may have PCOS. Depending upon various body traits, women can get diagnosed with different types of diabetes. They may also show different symptoms as per the type. Three main types of diabetes are common in women:
TYPE 1 Diabetes:
This type causes damage to the cells present in the pancreas. It is caused by an autoimmune reaction, where the body attacks itself by mistake. This reaction stops one’s body from making insulin. Therefore, people with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day.
TYPE 2 Diabetes:
This is the most common type of diabetes. Here, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. It develops over many years and is commonly diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults. The type 2 diabetes symptoms are hard to get noticed so keeping track helps.
This type develops in pregnant women, who have never had diabetes. The case happens when the body doesn’t make enough insulin during pregnancy. It usually goes away after the baby is born. However, you are more likely to develop the risk of type 2 diabetes later in life. Hence, you need to get involved in regular check-ups to keep a track of your blood glucose level and avoid further complications.
Gestational diabetes in women: Issues during Pregnancy
As we discussed above, gestational diabetes targets pregnant women only. The risk of gestational diabetes rises with an increase in age and history of family diabetes. Diabetes of most women gets cured post delivery. But having it makes you more likely to develop type 2. However, taking the correct measures can reduce this risk.
One of them is getting tested for diabetes 4 to 12 weeks after the baby is born. If the tests are normal, consider getting tested every 1 to 3 years. Women must also be conscious about their healthy weight and keep tracking it.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes in women include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having pre-diabetes
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome
- Not being physically active
- Having had diabetes during the previous pregnancy
- Having an immediate family member with diabetes
How can women manage gestational diabetes?
A pregnant woman’s body goes through several different changes than a normal body. Hence managing it also becomes different and needs to be taken more care of. They must follow a plan to keep the woman and the baby healthy. Following are some useful tips that can help women with gestational diabetes to stay healthy:
1. Include healthy carbs in your diet:
Swapping bad carbs like refined sugars, rice, and processed food(flavoured yoghurts, sweetened cereals) with the good ones like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps. This would help in preventing normal glucose levels to spike and will keep your metabolism steady.
2. Eat in small portions:
Managing portions in gestational diabetes is a must. It is advised to consume 6 small meals instead of 3 large meals a day. Opt for healthy snacks every 2-4 hours to prevent sugar fluctuations.
3. Get involved in activities:
Doing 20-30 minutes of exercise daily is suggested. Walking is an immensely effective exercise that you can do after every meal, even for 10 minutes.
4. Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels:
Keep a track of your levels as has been told by your doctor. Usually, pre and post-meals are the best suitable times for monitoring the normal glucose level.
5. Keep your gynaecologist informed about the ongoing condition:
Since mothers with gestational diabetes have a chance of developing type 2 diabetes, it could harm the baby too. To prevent that, stay in touch with your doctors and follow their advice.
Other ways in which diabetes can affect women:
It is crucial to keep a close check on diabetes symptoms. Changes in the hormonal level that occur around the time of the menstrual cycle can make normal glucose levels harder to predict. Diabetes in women may also increase their risk of urinary tract infections. There is no cure for diabetes. Once diagnosed, the only thing you can do is manage your symptoms regularly. A recent report shows that women with diabetes are 40% more likely to die.
The studies also show that people with type 1 diabetes have shorter life expectancies as compared to the general population. It lowers their life by 20 years and in the case of type 2 diabetes, life expectancy gets lowered by 10 years. A variety of lifestyle changes, along with medications and alternate remedies, can help manage diabetes symptoms and improve one’s overall health.
Diabetes management: A guide for women
As we have become aware of the fact that diabetes is not a curable disease, taking some required measures is the only way out. The body of diabetic women needs more care as it begins to work differently. Women must know their body habits and adopt a management plan, by consulting with their doctors, that suits their bodies perfectly. Here are a few tips that will help you keep your blood sugar level under control:
1. Healthy eating:
You need to know what kind of food items need to be avoided. It’s not only about the food you eat but also how much you eat and what combinations of food you eat.
- Make every meal well balanced
- Coordinate meals with medicines
- Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages
2. Staying physically active:
Exercising makes your muscles use sugar(glucose) for energy. Regularly indulging in physical exercise helps your body use insulin more efficiently.
- Discuss the excise plan with your doctor
- Follow a proper schedule
- Keep track of your levels regularly
- Stay hydrated
- Make adjustments as and when needed
When diet and exercise aren’t enough alone for managing sugar levels, medicines help to a great extent. Proper dosage taken at the right time during the day gives better results. Also, an important point to remember is that the medication you take for conditions other than diabetes can also affect your normal glucose level.
- Store insulin properly
- Report problems, if any, to the doctor
- Be cautious with the new medication
4. Know your numbers:
Consider keeping a log of your blood glucose levels and also your diabetes symptoms. If you’re not inclined to do this, your meter will capture up to a certain number of glucose values and let you download them to a computer for your viewing pleasure.
It’s important to look at all of your glucose values to get the big picture — not just a single point in time. By doing so, you can spot trends. Your numbers are information for both you and your health care team to learn how your diabetes treatment plan (medication, food intake, physical activity) is working for you.
If your blood glucose levels aren’t at goal and you observe any changes in your diabetic symptoms, ask your provider or diabetes educator what you can do to tweak your diabetes treatment plan. Not every blood sugar you check needs to be a target, but the closer you keep them within your target range, the lower the chance of complications. And the more often you check your blood glucose, the more information you have at your fingertips (literally) to do a course correction if needed.
What can The Health Capital do to help treat diabetes in women?
The Health Capital is a platform that looks forward to solving health-related issues for women. It observes the problems, that women nowadays are facing, closely and comes up with the best-suited solution. Every woman has the right to be aware of each aspect of her body and must have answers to the problems associated with them. The gynecologists here wholly empathize with all the women out there. They understand your doubts and queries and help you in every way possible.
Women can completely rely on the valuable information provided on this platform to get all their answers about health issues. You can connect with us by going through the analysis test on our website and also book an appointment with our specialists for a better experience. We at The Health Capital provide solutions for diabetes in women with the help of homeopathic treatment. And since it is an online consulting platform, you can get the solutions at your fingertips. We wish you have a great experience exploring and getting a consultation on diabetes here, at The Health Capital.
1. What are the early symptoms of diabetes in women?
The symptoms that show up initially include excessive tiredness, thirst, obesity, blurring of vision, and increased hunger. If you don’t have a normal sugar level, you need to see a doctor.
2. Is diabetes a curable disease?
No, diabetes is a non-curable disease, but if taken care of it can remain stable without causing many difficulties for a woman’s body. The tips and tricks that need to be followed may differ from person to person, as the functioning of every woman’s body varies.
3. Is diabetes treatment the same for women as that for men?
In type 1 and type 2 diabetes cases, the problem is essentially the same, but the treatment and causes for it are different. As gestational diabetes is only found in pregnant women, its treatment is completely different from the other two.
4. What if a woman had diabetes already before pregnancy?
The risk grows significantly, and in early pregnancy, you should get help from the special maternity health center.
5. What kind of food should a diabetic person avoid?
Avoid intake of foods that include bad carbs. Processed grains (white rice, white flour), white bread, fried food, and sweetened beverages must be ignored as consumption of these foods can spike blood sugar levels.