Are you at risk for diabetes? Here we are going to discuss diabetes symptoms in women and more.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body has trouble processing or creating insulin – resulting in high blood sugar. You can be born with type 1 diabetes or develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
Treatments have improved over the years, and we’ve managed to reduce the death rate for men with diabetes, but women are still dying at the same rate they were over 40 years ago.
What can you do as a woman to reduce your risk of diabetes?
The best thing you can do is be aware of the risks, treatments, and symptoms of diabetes in women. If you are aware of what to look for, you will be able to help your doctor diagnose you early. By being well-informed, you will be a knowledgeable patient.
Follow along with us as we investigate diabetes symptoms in women and learn about the risks and treatment plans for women, so you can be prepared for anything life can throw at you—including diabetes.
What are diabetes symptoms in women?
It’s important to know women often experience different disease symptoms than men. When doctors use male symptoms as the standards for making diagnoses, women can fall through the cracks.
This is the case with diabetes. Women’s symptoms are often different from men’s symptoms. They can differ in severity for a couple of reasons.
One reason is the effect of female hormones on a woman’s response to inflammation. Another reason is the difference in disease treatment between men and women. Men often receive more aggressive treatments than do women. Additionally, disease is sometimes underdiagnosed in women because women experience different symptoms than men.
Fortunately, women may have some unique diabetes symptoms you can look for.
Hyperglycemia caused by diabetes can compromise the immune system, making you vulnerable to infections such as urinary tract infections (UTI).
Watch for burning or painful urination, or cloudy urine, as these can be signs of a urinary tract infection. If you experience these symptoms, go to the doctor immediately because untreated UTIs can lead to kidney infections.
If you have frequent UTIs, you may want to get tested for diabetes.
Yeast infections can occur in the vagina or in the mouth. If you have diabetes, your high blood sugar may trigger the growth of fungus such as yeast. This makes you susceptible to yeast infections.
If you have excessive white vaginal discharge, itching, or pain in the vaginal area, these might be symptoms of a yeast infection. If you have a thick white coating on the back of your tongue, you might have an oral thrush infection, which is basically a yeast infection in your mouth.
Visit your doctor if you’re easily susceptible to yeast infections. This might be a sign of diabetes.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) happens when a female presenting person has excessive male hormones. This can cause insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.
Symptoms of PCOS can include acne, weight gain, infertility, and irregular periods. If you think you might have PCOS, visit your doctor.
If you have already been diagnosed with PCOS, take care to watch for other symptoms of diabetes.
Loss of sensation or tingling in extremities, known as diabetic neuropathy, is another common symptom of diabetes.
Most often, neuropathy affects the hands and feet, but it can also affect the vaginal area. Loss of sensation in this area can cause loss of sexual arousal.
If you are experiencing loss of sensation in these areas, consult your doctor, because you may have diabetes.
Keep in mind, the aforementioned diabetes symptoms in women are not the only symptoms of diabetes. Some people with diabetes have no symptoms at all. Other symptoms are common to both men and women.
Some diabetes sufferers have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Drastic changes in weight with no clear cause
- Vision changes
- Slow wound healing
- Skin infections and dark creased patches on the skin
- Fruity breath
- Nausea or fatigue
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, what treatments are available?
You have several treatment options, but remember, you may face unique challenges if you are susceptible to yeast infections or take high dose birth control pills. If this is the case, you’ll need to take extra care to monitor your blood sugar and follow the treatment method prescribed by your doctor.
You’ll find new diabetes medications on the market every day, but there are two primary types of medications. If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll need some form of insulin therapy, but for type 2 diabetes, you’ll probably take a drug to reduce your blood sugar.
No matter what type of diabetes you have, some of your symptoms can be relieved by some simple lifestyle changes. The changes may even help you become less reliant on your medication, though for type 1 diabetes, you will need to take insulin therapy for the rest of your life.
If you currently smoke, consider quitting. While you may experience temporary weight gain after quitting, the long-term health benefits of quitting smoking will be much more beneficial than the temporary risk of gaining weight immediately after you quit.
Begin a regular exercise regimen, if you don’t already exercise. Monitor your portions and eat more complex carbohydrates in place of simple sugars. And make sure you keep track of your blood sugar.
All these lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on your overall health and protect you from the dangerous effects of diabetes.
If you would prefer to limit your dependence on drugs to manage your diabetes symptoms, you might investigate alternative therapies.
You might find mineral-based supplements or plant supplements helpful in managing your blood sugar. These supplements and a few dietary changes might be beneficial to you. Experts suggest you increase your consumption of broccoli, peas, sage, and buckwheat.
Remember to consult your doctor before trying any of these alternate treatments.
Who is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes?
To accurately figure out if you are truly at risk for developing diabetes, you’ll have to look at several important contributing factors.
Keep in mind, none of these factors mean that you are going to have type 2 diabetes, but if you have one or more of these risk factors, you might need to keep a close eye on your overall health and monitor yourself for symptoms of diabetes.
Some risk factors for diabetes in women might include:
- Hereditary Factors: If you have family history of diabetes or are of African-American, Hispanic, or Native American ancestry, you could be at risk.
- Health Factors: If you are overweight or obese, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, or PCOS, you might be at risk.
- Other Factors: If you are over age 45, had a child over nine pounds, had gestational diabetes, or you don’t exercise regularly, you may be at risk.
Remember, having risk factors for diabetes doesn’t mean you’ll have it later. If you take care of yourself and watch for the signs of diabetes symptoms in women, you may be able to avoid having type 2 diabetes.
Now that you are aware of diabetes symptoms in women, you might ask if there’s a way to prevent diabetes. There’s always a chance you can reduce your risk of developing it, though it’s not possible to guarantee you won’t develop diabetes in the future.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn the best way to keep from developing type 2 diabetes is to live a healthier lifestyle.
Just a few simple steps can improve your overall health and help keep you from having to take expensive diabetes medications in the future. Don’t feel overwhelmed! Remember you don’t have to make all your lifestyle changes at once.
You can start with picking a single lifestyle change from the list below:
- Exercise: You should be exercising at least 30 minutes per day. There’s no need to join a gym! Just take a walk outside.
- Diet: Monitor your portion sizes and try to make a meal plan you can stick to. This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in the kitchen. Some restaurants have healthy meals you can incorporate. Try to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less simple sugar.
- Smoking: Don’t smoke! If you do smoke, try to quit. As a smoker, your risk for type 2 diabetes is 42% higher than for non-smokers.
Stay In-Tune with Your Body and Talk to Your Doctor if You Have Questions
Take it slow and be mindful of how you feel. You can take charge of your health, whether you already have diabetes, or you think you might be at risk.
It’s never too late to make positive changes to reduce your risk of developing diabetes or manage your diabetes better.