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  • Writer's pictureChanise | Sports Dietitian

Is Diabetes Hiding in Plain Sight? Recognizing the Symptoms in Women

Updated: Jun 15, 2023


Did you know that while Diabetes affects both men and women, there are certain factors that can make women more vulnerable to the disease?


While Diabetes affects both men and women, some factors can make women more vulnerable to the disease. These include hormonal changes throughout a woman's life, such as during pregnancy and menopause, which can affect insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) may have a significant percentage of risk in developing type 2 Diabetes due to insulin resistance.


Regardless of gender or ethnicity, leading a healthy lifestyle through eating a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight will help reduce the risk of developing Diabetes.

An image of fruits, vegetables , glucometer, and a chart
Diabetes, if untreated, can result in heart disease, stroke and many more complications.


If you have any questions or need further assistance, don't hesitate to contact our Dietitian.

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Get expert guidance on nutrition and diet. Book an appointment with our accredited Dietitian and take the first step towards a healthier, happier you.

This blog includes:

  • What are the different types of Diabetes?

  • Why Diabetes Occurs and Who is at Risk

  • How is it Diagnosed, Symptoms and the Potential Complications of Diabetes

  • Short-Term Symptoms of Diabetes

  • Can Diabetes be prevented?


Diabetes is a serious medical condition affecting thousands of people worldwide. Unfortunately, many cases of Diabetes are not diagnosed, especially in female athletes. In this blog post, we'll help you recognize the signs of Diabetes in women, explain the different types of Diabetes, and provide tips for preventing and diagnosing this hidden condition.


Diabetes occurs when your body has trouble controlling the sugar level in your blood. Your insulin helps your body transport sugar through your bloodstream to reach your cells in order to use it as an energy source. But in Diabetes, either your body doesn't make enough insulin or can't use insulin effectively, which means sugar builds up in your blood. This can cause a range of health problems if it's not treated.


What are the different types of Diabetes?


The two main types of Diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2.


Type 1, also known as insulin-dependent Diabetes, is an autoimmune disorder that destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leading to a shortage of insulin in the body.


Type 2 Diabetes is the most common type of Diabetes, which occurs when the body can't produce sufficient insulin or becomes resistant to it. This type of Diabetes can occur over time by being genetically predisposed and due to environmental and lifestyle factors.


Gestational Diabetes, on the other hand, is a type of Diabetes that affects women during pregnancy. Other less common types of Diabetes include: monogenic Diabetes and cystic fibrosis-related Diabetes.


Women are more vulnerable to Diabetes due to various factors. Hormonal changes throughout a woman's life, such as during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can affect insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, potentially leading to Diabetes. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age, is also characterised by insulin resistance, which can increase the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes.


Additionally, women are more likely to be obese and have a sedentary lifestyle, major risk factors for Diabetes.


An image of insulin pen for diabetes
If other medications for type 2 Diabetes are no longer able to keep your blood sugar levels within a reasonable range, insulin will be required. In other cases, you could need insulin for a brief period of time, such as if you're pregnant, sick, or need to lower your blood sugar level when you're initially diagnosed with Diabetes.

Why Diabetes Occurs and Who is at Risk


Diabetes occurs when the body cannot regulate the sugar level in the blood. This can happen either because the body does not generate sufficient insulin or because the cells in the body are unable to respond to insulin properly. A hormone called insulin helps regulate blood sugar levels in the body.


When blood sugar levels are not regulated properly, it can lead to varied health problems, resulting in nerve damage, kidney damage, and cardiovascular disease.

Women are more vulnerable to Diabetes due to various factors. Hormonal changes that occur throughout a woman's life, such as those during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can affect insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, potentially leading to Diabetes.


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age, is also characterised by insulin resistance, which can increase the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes. Additionally, women are more likely to be obese and have a sedentary lifestyle, which are major risk factors for Diabetes.


An infographic image of deaths because of diabetes.
Women in comparison to males have heightened outcomes which follow heart attacks, with Diabetes increasing the risk of heart disease (the most frequent diabetic consequence) by roughly four times in women but only by about two times in men.


How is it Diagnosed, Symptoms and the Potential Complications of Diabetes


Diabetes can be diagnosed through various diagnostic tests, including fasting plasma glucose, oral glucose tolerance test, and A1C test. However, diabetes can also be misdiagnosed, so immediate medical attention is recommended if you experience symptoms of Diabetes.


Diabetes can lead to several short-term and long-term complications. Short-term complications include hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, while long-term complications include heart disease, kidney damage, and nerve damage. Diabetes can also affect wound healing and eyes.


Short-Term Symptoms of Diabetes


People with Diabetes often experience short-term symptoms such as hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. If you have hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, these can cause symptoms such as:

  • Sweating

  • Shaking

  • Blurred Vision

  • Rapid Heartbeat

  • Confusion


On the other hand, hyperglycemia also recognised by many as high blood sugar, can cause symptoms such as:

  • Frequent Urination

  • Increased Thirst

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Blurred Vision

An infographic illustration of the different symptoms between hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia
Be mindful of the different types of short-term symptoms for hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.

It's crucial to know the difference between these symptoms and seek medical attention if you experience any of them. Monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly and making lifestyle changes, such as adjusting your diet and exercise routine, can help prevent these symptoms. Remember, it's crucial to take control of your Diabetes and seek medical advice if you're experiencing any of these short-term symptoms.


Over time, a dysregulation of blood sugar can affect the eyes and lead to a condition called Diabetic retinopathy, which can cause blindness if left untreated. Diabetes can also affect the body's ability to fight infection, slowing wound healing and increasing the risk of infections. Additionally, nerve damage caused by Diabetes can affect the sensation in the feet, which can make it difficult to detect injuries or ulcers on the feet, leading to further complications.


Are you looking for evidence-based nutrition guidance to support your health goals? Our expert Dietitian is here to help! Schedule an appointment today.

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Our expert Dietitian is here to help! Schedule an appointment today. And take the first step towards a healthier, happier you.

Can diabetes be prevented?


Through dietary and lifestyle adjustments, such as regular exercise and appropriate food selections, Diabetes can be prevented.


Exercise


It has been demonstrated that exercise enhances glucose metabolism and blood sugar regulation. Frequent exercise improves the body's ability to utilise insulin, which in turn helps control blood sugar levels. Exercise can also lessen insulin resistance and enhance cardiovascular health in general.


Finding an enjoyable hobby, whether it be weightlifting, running, or yoga makes it simpler to fit exercise into your daily schedule.


An image of a woman doing exercise
Muscle cells may utilise insulin and glucose more effectively with greater physical activity, which reduces the chance of developing diabetes.

Nutrition


Another critical part of minimising Diabetes is choosing nutritious foods with a low glycemic index (GI) and a high fibre content that can control blood sugar levels. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts are a few of these foods.


On the other hand, processed and sugary foods can raise blood sugar levels and contribute to developing Diabetes. People can actively participate in preventing Diabetes and enhancing their general health by making healthy, whole-food choices and avoiding processed snacks and sweets.

An image of a healthy and balanced diet in a bowl
It has been shown that diets high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, moderate alcohol consumption, and low in refined grains, red/processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages improve glycemic control and blood lipids in Diabetic patients while lowering the risk of developing the disease.

Sleep


Research has shown that regular sleep can lower the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes. This is because sleep is essential for the body's regulation of glucose and insulin. During sleep, insulin sensitivity increases, allowing for more efficient glucose processing.


On the other hand, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a state of insulin resistance, where the body is less effective at processing glucose and insulin, resulting in an increased risk of developing type 2 Diabetes. Getting enough high-quality sleep can also help with weight management, another essential factor in preventing Diabetes. Poor sleep has been linked to weight gain.

An image of bed, symbolizing sleep
Sleep is one helpful ways to help you lower your risk of diabetes.

Conclusion


In conclusion, Diabetes is a serious condition that can have a significant number of negative effects on the body if left untreated. Women are more vulnerable to Diabetes due to various factors. The condition can be diagnosed through various diagnostic tests and can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle.


Don't wait - take the first step in protecting yourself today; contact our reliable Dietitian and learn how to prevent Diabetes.


Image of Chanise Konstantinidis, our One Motion Dietitian
If you're struggling with managing your diet and nutrition, our accredited practising Dietitian can help. Book an appointment now to get on the path to a healthier you.


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