Diabetes and Women: Here Are Startling Facts to Know

Contrary to popular claims, a person with diabetes cannot reverse the disease. It will never go away. They can significantly delay the complications and manage them through prompt medical intervention and lifestyle changes.

One of the popular home health care services for diabetic patients is foot care. Many patients with diabetes are prone to develop foot ulcers, especially on the heels, toes, and balls of feet. The disease could damage the blood vessels, so these parts of the body won’t receive enough nutrients to take care of the tissues.

Moreover, on neuropathic ulcers, there is no feeling. Patients do not feel the pain caused by pressure, and they cannot sense temperature changes. They are less likely to know their foot has already experienced some damage, like an open wound, until it worsens.

But this isn’t the only information people need to know about diabetes. Women have to take extra care if they are susceptible to the condition. Some types of research show that the number of females affected by it is grossly underestimated and that they are more likely to develop complications than men.

First, How Do People Develop Diabetes?

Cells need energy to function, and one of their foremost requirements is sugar. Many types of food contain it, although carbohydrates have the most significant amount of it.

When a person ingests sugar, the body breaks it down and produces insulin through the pancreas. It is a hormone that enables glucose to enter cells so that it can be used as fuel for energy.

In some cases, however, the cells become less sensitive to the hormone, a condition known as insulin resistance. What happens then is that the pancreas produces more until it wears out like a mechanical device. For those with type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce insulin at all. As glucose continues to rise and the production of insulin becomes abnormal, the person eventually develops diabetes.

How Are Men and Women Affected Differently by Diabetes?

nurse checking blood sugar level of old woman

Diabetes knows no age or gender. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), over 200,000 men and women below the age of 20 have been diagnosed with the condition. In 2018, about 10.5 percent of the population had diabetes.

The data also showed that men are more likely to be diagnosed by doctors with diabetes than women. However, new studies seem to say it might not be entirely correct. More women might have remained undiagnosed.

What makes women more prone to diabetes?

• Gestational diabetes affects at least 10 percent of pregnant women. Although, in some cases, the condition disappears after pregnancy, about 50 percent of the diagnoses will later become type 2 diabetes. In fact, many doctors now consider gestational diabetes as an early warning sign of type 2.

• Women are more likely to be vigilant about their health. However, they are also more prone to having their symptoms dismissed by their doctors. The topic of gender bias in diagnosing a patient has already been a subject of many studies, one of which dated back to 2000 and appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine.

• Obesity, one of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes, also impacts men and women differently. In a UK study, a higher body mass index (BMI) is associated with a higher risk of diabetes in women than in men. But a higher waist-to-hip ratio puts men at a greater risk of developing chronic kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than women.

• Statistics show that men are more likely to be diagnosed when older than 60 years than women. However, because women usually live longer than men, they are more likely to develop long-term complications.

• Female hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen, directly impact the sensitivity of cells to insulin. As they fluctuate, so can the levels of blood sugar. This explains why insulin resistance affects as many as 60 percent of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Other Risk Factors of Diabetes

The above-mentioned information doesn’t mean that men can take diabetes more lightly than women. Many factors can still affect the risk of the condition:

• Age: Although many people develop diabetes in later years, it is becoming increasingly common to see young adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

• Obesity/Overweight and Physical Inactivity: People who have excess body weight or are not physically active are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

• Family History of Diabetes: Those with a first-degree relative (parent, brother, or sister) diagnosed with diabetes are considered at increased risk.

• High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, and Heart Disease: Often, people will have type 2 diabetes along with one or more of these other conditions, which is known as “metabolic syndrome” (a group of risk factors that raise a person’s chance of having heart disease and/or a stroke).

Women can be just as predisposed, if not more susceptible to diabetes, than men. But because it doesn’t discriminate, everyone still needs to be vigilant. When caught before it becomes full-blown, it can still be reversed. Otherwise, one can manage it effectively and live as long as the rest of the general population.

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