World Diabetes Day is observed on November 14 every day to raise awareness about high blood sugar or diabetes and the dangers associated with it. If left untreated, diabetes can affect your major organs and can even prove to be fatal. It is important to note that while diabetes is harmful for both men and women, its impact can differ by gender. According to Dr Dheeraj Kapoor, Chief, Endocrinologist at Artemis Hospital Gurugram, “Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects people worldwide, and its impact can vary between genders. Understanding gender-specific risks and symptoms is crucial for tailored prevention, diagnosis, and management.”
World Diabetes Day: Effect Of High Blood Sugar On Women
On World Diabetes Day 2023, Dr Dheeraj Kapoor explores how diabetes can impact women:
1. Gestational Diabetes
Women can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. This condition, characterised by elevated blood sugar levels, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes later in life. It is essential for pregnant women to undergo regular screenings to detect and manage gestational diabetes promptly.
2. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a common hormonal disorder affecting women of reproductive age. It is associated with insulin resistance, which elevates the risk of type 2 diabetes. Women with PCOS should be vigilant about monitoring their blood sugar levels and adopting lifestyle changes to mitigate diabetes risk.
3. Hormonal Influence On Blood Sugar
Fluctuations in hormonal levels throughout a woman’s life, such as during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, can impact blood sugar levels. Hormones like estrogen and progesterone influence insulin sensitivity, affecting how the body processes glucose. Understanding these hormonal nuances is crucial for managing diabetes effectively in women.
4. Increased Cardiovascular Risk
Women with diabetes have a higher risk of cardiovascular complications compared to men. Elevated blood sugar levels, combined with other risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol, contribute to a greater likelihood of heart disease. Regular cardiovascular screenings and lifestyle modifications are essential for managing this heightened risk.
5. Unique Symptoms in Women
While the classic symptoms of diabetes are common to both genders, women may experience additional concerns. For instance, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and yeast infections are more prevalent in women with diabetes. These infections thrive in high-sugar environments, making women more susceptible.
6. Depression and Diabetes
Women with diabetes have an increased risk of developing depression compared to their male counterparts. The emotional and psychological impact of managing a chronic condition, combined with hormonal fluctuations, can contribute to mental health challenges. Recognising and addressing these aspects are crucial for comprehensive diabetes care.
7. Menopause and Diabetes Management
Menopausal women may face challenges in diabetes management due to hormonal changes affecting insulin sensitivity. It becomes imperative for women and their healthcare providers to adapt diabetes management strategies during and after menopause to maintain optimal blood sugar control.
8. Pregnancy Planning and Diabetes Control
For women with diabetes planning pregnancy, pre-conception care is vital. Ensuring blood sugar levels are well-controlled before conception reduces the risk of complications for both the mother and the baby. Close monitoring and adjustments to medication may be necessary throughout pregnancy.
9. Bone Health Concerns
Women with diabetes may be at a higher risk of bone fractures. Diabetes can impact bone density, and the increased risk may be further exacerbated by factors such as age and menopausal status. Adequate calcium intake, vitamin D supplementation, and weight-bearing exercises are crucial for maintaining bone health.
10. Lifestyle Management
A key aspect of diabetes management in women involves adopting a healthy lifestyle. This includes a balanced diet, regular physical activity, stress management, and maintaining a healthy weight. Lifestyle modifications are especially crucial for women with gestational diabetes or those at risk due to hormonal conditions like PCOS.
“Understanding the gender-specific risks and symptoms of diabetes is vital for a holistic approach to healthcare. Tailoring prevention, diagnosis, and management strategies to address the unique needs of women can significantly improve outcomes and enhance overall well-being. Regular screenings, lifestyle modifications, and a collaborative approach between women and their healthcare providers are pivotal elements in the effective management of diabetes in women,” shares Dr Kapoor.