symptoms of diabetes in women
Metabolic Health

Diabetes Sign and Symptoms in Women

According to international statistics of 2021, 9% of women in the world population have diabetes. While in India, the prevalence of diabetes in women is 11.7%. The prevalence of diabetes increases in the older age group, and most cases of type 2 diabetes are in individuals more than 45 years old. At the same time, gestational diabetes occurs in women during their childbearing age. Most of the symptoms of diabetes in women are the same as in men, while some symptoms are unique to women.

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms in Women

Most of the times men and women experience the same symptoms however in a few cases the symptoms may vary. In some cases, these list of particular diabetes symptoms in women can help yu catch diabetes early on in women and the treatment can be started immediately. 

Candida Infections

High blood sugar levels are an ideal environment for fungus to grow. An overgrowth of yeast caused by the Candida fungus can result in oral or vaginal yeast infections. These are also known as thrush. The sugar symptoms in women to identify an infection are - itching, discharge, painful sex, or soreness. Oral yeast infections cause a white coating on the inside of mouth and on the tongue. 

UTIs (Urinary Tract Infection)

UTI occurs when bacteria enters th urinary tract. The risk is higher in women with diabetes as the hyperglycemia compromises the immune system. The symptoms of UTI are - painful urination, a burning sensation at the end of urination, bloody or cloudy urine, and constant urge to urinate. If these symptoms go untreated, there is a high risk of kidney infection. 

Vaginal dryness

DIabetic neurppathy is when your nerve fibers are damaged. This causes various parts of the body to lose feeling or constant tingling feeling. DIabetic neuropathy is a common cause of vaginal dryness. 

Polycyctic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

There is no exact cause of PCOS known. WHen a woman produces high levels of andrigen or male hormones, or has a family history, PCOS is a high possibility. PCOS has been linked to insulin resistance which leads to rise in blood sugar levels and ultimately results in diabetes. Insulin resistance can be a cause or a symptom of PCOS. The indications of PCOS are - 

  • Acne
  • Infertility
  • Depression
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Irregular periods

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms in Women

  • Decreased sexual drive: Neuropathy in people with diabetes leads to decreased vaginal sensation. Diabetes also causes vaginal dryness. Few women suffer from yeast infections due to diabetes. These factors lead to a decrease in sexual drive in women.
  • Urinary infections: Increased levels of blood sugars increase the growth of bacteria. Due to this, the risk of getting urinary tract infections also increases. In diabetes, the urine is retained in the bladder, causing frequent bacterial infections. Signs of type 2 diabetes in women occurring due to urinary tract infections include pain while urinating, burning in the vagina, or blood in the urine.
  • Irregular menstruation: Diabetes can cause hormonal changes in the body. Due to hormonal imbalance, the women with type 2 diabetes present with irregular periods, decreased flow, and no ovulation. The risk of developing polycystic ovarian disease also increases in women with type 2 diabetes.
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Gestational Diabetes Symptoms in Women

Gestational diabetes do not cause any noticeable symtoms in women. It is experienced by women during pregnancy and the blood sugar stabilizes after childbirth. It is often discovered when the doctors conduct blood tests to check the health of the pregnant lady. SOme women may develop thes eif the blood sugar levels get too high:

  • Increased thirst
  • Needing to urinate more than usual
  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness

Most of these symptoms are common during pregnancy and you can consult your doctor in case of any doubts.

Treatment for diabetes

There is no proven cure for diabetes. Once it has been diagnosed by the doctor, all you can do is manage the symptoms by making changes in your lifestyle and medication. 

  1. Medication - There are variety of medications available that can be prescribed even in combinations to ensure they have the optimum effect. The most common medications prescribed are - 
  • Insulin therapy - This is for all people with type 1 diabetes
  • Metformin - This medication stabilizes your blood sugar levels. 
  1. Liofestyle changes - These can also help you manage diabetes especially in case of type 2 diabetes. Here are some changes you could look at - 
  • Exercising and maintaining a moderate weight.
  • Try to quit smoking if possible. 
  • Following a well-balanced diet plan that meet your needs and is focused on fruits vegetables and whole grains. 
  • COnstantly monitoring your blood glucose levels. 

It was recently found that everyone’ body responds uniquely to various food items. This means that the approach towards diet and exercise should be customized in each case. 

  1. Alternative remedies - There are some studies but more conclusive research is required on the effectiveness and ebenfits of alternative remedies. 

ALternative remedies with slight benefits for people with diabetes include supplements like chromium and magnesium. Herbs and seeds like buckwheat, sage, and fenugreek seeds. It is recommended to contact the doctor before streating any remedies.

Risk Factors for Diabetes in Women?

The most common risk factors that can be a reason for diabetes in future include:

  • Old age (more than 45 years)
  • Obesity and overweight
  • Family history
  • Lack of physical activity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Other medical issues impacting insulin, like PCOS
  • Had gestational diabetes
  • Giving birth to a baby who weighs more than 4 kg
  • History of heart disease
  • Injury to pancreas
  • Excessive physical stress

What is Diabetes and its Causes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disease associated with an increased level of blood sugar. The human body synthesises hormones known as insulin from pancreatic cells. This hormone helps in transferring sugar from the blood to the cells. The body cells then extract energy from this glucose. In diabetes, either the insulin synthesis or its action on cells gets affected. It impacts the mobilisation of glucose in cells and leads to an increase in blood glucose levels.

In type 1 diabetes, the immune system of the body destroys the beta cells of the pancreas. Due to these changes, the synthesis of insulin decreases considerably. The decrease in insulin levels causes an increase in blood sugar levels. Additional reasons for diabetes associated with insulin deficiency include environmental factors and viral infections.

In type 2 diabetes, the amount of insulin produced by the body is adequate, but the cells become resistant to insulin. The cause for this resistance could be lifestyle factors or genetic abnormalities. Due to this resistance, the cells require more insulin to maintain the desired blood glucose level. The insulin produced in the body cannot meet this demand, causing increased blood glucose levels.

Common symptoms of diabetes

Symptoms of diabetes vary with the reason for diabetes. The most common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Stomach pain
  • Unplanned loss of weight

Common symptoms of type 2 diabetes:

  • Yeast infection
  • Poor healing of sores and cuts
  • Numbness in feet

Early signs and symptoms that are common for both types of diabetes include:

  • Increased hunger and tiredness
  • Passing urine more frequently
  • Feeling thirsty very frequently
  • Itchiness in the skin and dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Irritability
  • Mood changes

Most women do not present these signs and symptoms in the prediabetic phase. Hence, close monitoring of blood sugar levels and medical attention to identify any of the above warning signs are integral for women.

What are the Complications of Diabetes in Women?

Diabetes can cause complications in women and diabetes overall is different for women than men. Hormones and inflammation is different in women and hence the consequences change as well. Here are the common diabetes signs in women with diabetes - 

  1. Eating disorders - According to the ADA, there is some research that supports the fact that eating disorders are more common in women with diabetes than in women without. 
  2. Coronary heart disease - Many women with type 2 diabetes already have diabetes when their condition gets diagnosed. 
  3. Skin conditions - The fluctuations in blood sugar levels often cause fungal and bacterial infections. 
  4. Nerve damage - Nerve damage is common in women with diabetes and it can lead to pain, impaired circulation, or loss of feeling. 
  5. Eye damage - Eye damage can lead to partial vision loss or complete blindness. 
  6. Foot damage - If foot damage is not treated in time, it can result in amputation as well. 
  7. Mental health - Women with diabetes are at a higher risk of depression than men with diabetes. 

Bottomline

Most of the effects of diabetes on the human body are the same in both men and women. But women present a few unique symptoms that involve the reproductive system. These symptoms can affect the unborn child and fertility in women. In addition, women are at a higher risk of developing diabetes-related complications in extreme uncontrolled cases, including heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and depression. Hence, understanding the importance of these symptoms helps in the early detection of diabetes. Early detection helps in a better prognosis. Women can start a diabetic diet for women at an early stage to improve overall glucose control in the body.

FAQs

Can Diabetes affect the Menstrual Cycle?

Women with diabetes are highly susceptible to experiencing irregularity in their menstrual cycle due to hormonal imbalances in the body in diabetes. An irregular menstrual cycle is considered a vital sign for the diagnosis of diabetes.

How does diabetes affect a woman?

Mostly the symptoms of diabetes are the same in a man and a woman. However, it has some varied impacts. A woman with diabetes may experience irregular menstrual cycles due to hormonal imbalances. Women are prone to develop gestational diabetes during their childbearing age. This may cause medical issues like PCOS, physical stress, obesity, and overweight, high blood pressure and cholesterol, etc. in a woman.

What are some diabetes symptoms in women?

Here are some of the symptoms of diabetes in women - 

  • Candida Infections
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Vaginal Dryness
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Skin infections
  • Blurry vision
  • Sweet, fruity, or acetone-like breath
  • Irritability
  • Numbness in hands or feet
  • Reduced healing rate of wounds
  • Patches of dark skin at the armpits, groin, and back of the neck
  • Unexplained and sudden weight loss

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