Glucose is vital to your body, being the principal source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel. But an imbalanced amount of glucose in your blood can be really harmful.
Diabetes refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). The underlying cause of diabetes varies by type. But, no matter what type of diabetes you have, it leads to excess sugar in your blood. This condition affects both men and women. However, there are warning signs that are surprisingly exclusive to women.
Diabetes has many causes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas no longer produces insulin due to an autoimmune reaction. The term “autoimmune reaction” means that the body produces antibodies against its own cells and to which a scientific satisfying answer has not yet been found.
Type 2 diabetes is more common and occurs when the body either fails to use insulin properly or does not produce enough of it. Some backgrounds put you in a category where you are more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It’s mainly due to family history, the more people in your family with diabetes, the more likely you are to be diagnosed with it. Typically, type 2 diabetes occurs later in life – often after the age of 40. Symptoms appear gradually, and therefore it is often difficult to diagnose it.
Being overweight also increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Large fat cells do not respond well to insulin, which means the body works harder to make more insulin.
Finally, pregnancy increases demand on the pancreas, causing some women to develop diabetes during their pregnancy. This is called “gestational diabetes”. Very often it disappears after childbirth. However, later in life, it may come back.
No treatment can cure diabetes permanently. It is a chronic disease and lifelong treatment is necessary, adaptable to each case.
The only treatment for type 1 diabetes is insulin, which is essential for life.
The standard treatment for type 2 diabetes is optimizing lifestyle habits. Weight loss if necessary, regular physical activity and a balanced diet may be enough to control blood sugar at first. These measures are a real mode of treatment, and can help avoid the need for medication. As a second intention, oral and / or injectable anti-diabetics are prescribed to control blood sugar.
Diabetes has many side effects and cause many health problems such as nerve damage, dental disease and eye problems. Kidney disease, heart disease and strokes are also eventualities of high tenure of sugar in blood, hence the need for an early diagnosis and a full follow-up.
Diabetes symptoms vary depending on how much your blood sugar is elevated and they affect both men and women. In type 1 diabetes, symptoms tend to come on quickly and be more severe. People with type 2 diabetes, may not experience symptoms initially, as it is a disease that remains silent for a very long time and can progress for years without causing any manifestation.
Here are some signs that should prompt you to consult without delay:
- Urgent need to urinate: The body seeks to eliminate this excess sugar in the blood by the urine.
- Extreme Thirst: permanent thirst and dry mouth are the main signs of diabetes. In diabetes thirst is a coping mechanism. As there is too much sugar in the blood, the kidneys eliminate it in the urine. For this, the volume of urine must be increased and thirst compensates for this loss of water.
- Fatigue: in a diabetic, sugar can no longer fulfill its role as fuel, source of energy. This results in a state of fatigue even without physical activity.
- Loss of sensitivity: excess sugar causes loss of sensitivity and tingling, especially in the lower limbs, according to a Diabetes Care review in 2017.
- Slower healing: If you find that an injury or cut is more difficult to heal than usual, it may be a sign of diabetes. Diabetics often have injuries they don’t feel due to their neuropathy. A higher concentration of glucose in blood also creates a favorable environment for bacteria and fungi and prevents injuries from healing.
- Halitosis: caused by the extended dehydration. It’s also due to Ketosis, a metabolic state in which fat provides most of the fuel for the body and occurs when there is limited access to glucose. It involves the body producing ketone, which can have an unpleasant scent.
- Vision troubles, always related to the heightened amount of sugar in their systems, which can cause fluid to form over a person’s eye.
- Erectile dysfunction as a side effect documented in men. Women can also experience lack of desire or discomfort during the sexual act.
- Tendency to skin infections (abscesses, boils) in both men and women, with the possibility of appearance of patches of dark skin in the body’s creases. Itching can also be a symptom as various rashes can occur.
These symptoms affect men and women equally. However, and as we previously mentioned, there are symptoms more exclusive to women.
Firstly, women can experience yeast infections related to the high sugar level in blood. As proved by a 2014 study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The link was not well clarified; however, this could be explained by the fact that the fungus prospers on organic matter (glucose), so when sugar levels increase, yeast spreads rapidly causing a vaginal infection.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is also a side effect of diabetes specific to women. According to the website Diabetes Self-Management, women experience UTI ten times as often as men do, and diabetes boosts women’s chances of developing the condition as a study proved, people with diabetes were 60 percent more likely to get an infection than their healthy counterparts.
The link between diabetes and UTI could be explained by the fact that blood not pumping enough in all body parts prevents white blood cells from reaching the site of potential infection allowing it to develop easily. It’s also easy for a UTI to develop in diabetic women as some with diabetes have trouble completely emptying their bladders, leaving urine in the organ for too long, which allows bacteria and infection to spread.
Women with type 2 diabetes often have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects women with hormonal imbalances. Their ovaries tend to produce an unusually large amount of certain hormones called androgens. Women with this syndrome often develop insulin resistance. There is therefore a strong link between polycystic ovary syndrome and insulin resistance syndrome which is responsible for diabetes. A 2012 study by Cardiff University in the U.K. confirmed that, by finding out that women with PCOS had a much higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes than their healthier counterparts.
Now that you know all about the symptoms of diabetes, it might be easier for you to detect the disease early allowing you a precocious diagnosis that will help you better manage the illness and get the proper care. Diabetes is a persistent and chronic disease, but keep in mind that an adapted healthy lifestyle remains your best ally, with physical exercises and a balanced diet.