Most Common Signs of Diabetes in Women Over 40
Diabetes is a group of metabolic disorders characterized by high blood glucose levels which are due to problems in either producing or processing insulin. Anyone can be affected by diabetes, regardless of race, age or gender.
According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the death rate due to diabetes fell in men between the years 1971 and 2000. However, no improvement was noticed in the death rate for women. Moreover, the difference in rates of death between women with diabetes and women without the disease doubled.
The study presented a variety of possible reasons for the different results in both genders. Some of the reasons were:
- Women are often less rigorously treated for risk factors related to heart and other conditions associated with diabetes.
- Diagnosing complications associated with diabetes is more difficult in women.
- Women suffer from different types of cardiovascular diseases too
- The effects of inflammation and hormones are different in women.
According to findings, the effect of diabetes is different in men and women.
Although previously the death rate was greater among women, a shift has occurred in the gendered distribution of type 2 diabetes, showing greater rates among men. According to the most current statistics, in the USA, 13.4 million women and 15.5 million men suffer from diabetes.
According to reports from WHO (World Health Organization) in the year 2014, there are an estimated 422 million adults living with diabetes. This has increased from 108 million since 1980.
Most common signs of diabetes in women over 40
If you are female and suffering from diabetes, you will have similar symptoms to men. However, some symptoms are unique to women. Understanding both types will help in the early diagnosis and treatment of diabetes.
Symptoms and signs that are unique to women are:
Yeast infections of the vagina, oral cavity and vaginal thrush
An overgrowth of candida fungus can result in yeast infections of the vagina, oral cavity and cause vaginal thrush. Symptoms of vaginal yeast infection include soreness, itching, discharge from the vagina and pain during sex. A yeast infection in the oral cavity can result in a cottage-cheese like coating on the inside of the mouth and tongue. The overgrowth of fungus is triggered by high levels of blood glucose.
Women who are suffering from diabetes have a higher than normal risk of developing UTIs or urinary tract infections. The most common symptoms of a UTI are a sensation of burning or pain during urination, and cloudy or bloody urine.
High levels of blood glucose may damage nerve fibers, leading to diabetic neuropathy. This can result in a loss of feeling or numbness and tingling in different areas of the body such as feet, hands and legs. Sensation in the vagina may also be affected by this condition, resulting in a lower sex drive.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
This condition develops when higher quantities of male hormones are produced by the adrenal glands. Signs and symptoms of PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, include weight gain, irregular periods, depression and acne. It can also result in infertility and insulin resistance. This leads to increased levels of blood sugar and a greater risk of developing diabetes.
Symptoms of diabetes present in both men and women
The following symptoms are present in both men and women with undiagnosed diabetes:
- Increased hunger
- Increased thirst
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing of wounds
- Increased tendency to develop skin infections
- Patches of darkened skin in areas where creases are present
- Decreased feeling in feet or hands
- Sweet, acetone, or fruity odor from your breath
It is important to note that many individuals with diabetes do not develop any noticeable symptoms.
What are the risk factors for developing diabetes in women?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, if you are female and have the following conditions, then you have a higher risk of developing diabetes:
- You are more than 45 years of age
- You are obese or overweight
- You have a positive family history of diabetes (either in a sibling or in a parent)
- You are Native American, African-American, Hispanic, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian or Asian American
- You gave birth to a baby who had a birth weight of greater than 9 pounds
- You have a personal history of gestational diabetes
- You have hypertension
- You have hypercholesterolemia
- You have a sedentary lifestyle or exercise less than 3 times per week
- You suffer from other illnesses that cause insulin resistance such as PCOS
- You have a personal history of stroke or heart disease
Complications of diabetes in women
Women with diabetes should be aware of further complications that their condition can cause. These include:
- Eating disorders: According to research, eating disorders are more common in female diabetics.
- Heart disease: Many women with type 2 diabetescan also suffer from heart disease.
- Skin ailments: These include fungal or bacterial infections.
- Damage to nerves: This can result in pain, loss of feeling or impaired circulation in the affected limb.
- Damage to eyes: This can result in blindness.
- Damage to feet: If prompt treatment is not given, amputation may be required.
There is no cure for diabetes; managing symptoms is the only treatment. According to a recent study, women suffering from diabetes are 40% more likely to die due to their disease. It has also been demonstrated that type 1 diabetes lowers life expectancy by 20 years, and type 2 diabetes lowers life expectancy by 10 years.
Though no cure exists for diabetes, by using various medicines, following lifestyle and dietary changes and using alternative remedies, you can manage your disease and improve your overall health.