Diabetes mellitus in women – causes, symptoms, treatment
Diabetes is diagnosed in women twice as often as in men. This is due to the hormonal characteristics of the body that provoke obesity, and obesity is the main cause of diabetes. A genetic predisposition also affects – this ailment is more often transmitted through the female line.
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Types of diabetes
Diabetes mellitus is associated with endocrine system disease and metabolic disorders. In this case, the absorption of glucose by the body is disrupted, as a result of which its level in the blood rises greatly and leads to hyperglycemia. An increase in glucose levels occurs due to a lack of the hormone insulin in the body. This disease is usually chronic. There are two main types of diabetes mellitus – 1 and 2. There is also a specific form: gestational, which occurs in pregnant women, and passes after childbirth. In type 1 diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed, this process progresses and the result is chronic hyperglycemia. In the patient’s body, there is a deficiency (the so-called absolute deficiency) of proinsulin, which is a natural substance that synthesizes insulin. Because of this disadvantage, there is a need for another, artificial source of insulin. Patients with type 1 diabetes are insulin dependent and require hormone replacement therapy. Diabetes mellitus type 1 is also called “juvenile”, although this disease is not age-related. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the opposite picture – an excess of proinsulin and its derivative – insulin. This leads to decreased tissue sensitivity to insulin, resulting in hyperglycemia. This type affects people whose body accumulates in excess fat cells and tissues. As a rule, these people tend to be overweight. This type is less dangerous because it does not involve insulin dependence. At the same time, it can be latent, and it is often confused with the initial stages of type 1 diabetes, which are characterized by similar course features. With type 2 diabetes mellitus, patients have high blood pressure (hypertension).
Other types of diabetes in women include those that are caused by medications, infections, pancreatic diseases, pregnancy, or are genetic in nature.
Causes of diabetes in women
Male and female organisms differ from each other, among other things, and from a “hormonal” point of view. The reasons that cause the appearance of the disease differ in men and women, respectively, different treatment is prescribed. The reason for the abnormal rise in blood glucose depends on the type of diabetes. The most common, type 2, occurs mainly in women over 40. The prerequisites for its appearance are:
- a sedentary lifestyle (physical activity less than 3 times a week);
- unbalanced, unhealthy diet;
- excess weight;
- suffered a heart attack or stroke.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by heredity. Unfortunately, it is impossible to prevent it, even by adhering to the rules of a healthy lifestyle. There is another type of diabetes – gestational diabetes. It develops during pregnancy and in most cases goes away on its own after giving birth. The reason for its occurrence is hormonal changes in the body. The danger of gestational diabetes is that it can persist as type 2 diabetes after childbirth.
Symptoms of diabetes in women
Common symptoms of diabetes in women (both type 1 and type 2) that may indicate a disease are as follows:
- thirst and dry mouth;
- weight loss or gain;
- frequent urination, often independent of the amount of water you drink;
- violation of the menstrual cycle;
- general weakness of the body, low efficiency, fatigue.
At the same time, a feature of type 1 diabetes is the presence of the smell of acetone from the mouth and from the body. It is worth paying attention to the fact that with a noticeable weight loss, a person has an increased appetite. In turn, the 2nd type can be accompanied not only by loss, but also by weight gain, not associated with increased appetite. Rashes appear on the body, itching, skin and mucous membranes become dry. Vision may deteriorate markedly. In addition, thrush can be a symptom of diabetes in women, so the gynecologist must definitely draw the attention of his patient to this, otherwise complications may subsequently begin. It is important to bear in mind that diagnosis, especially self-diagnosis, should not be based on one of the symptoms, since each of them individually may indicate completely different ailments. Only a set of signs can more or less correctly indicate this or that disease. Since the hormonal background in women changes with age (after 30, 40, 50, 60, etc.), this should also be addressed. If any symptom appears, you should see a doctor. For accurate diagnostics, it is imperative to pass tests, and it is advisable to trace their results in dynamics to see the trend of change. In particular, women who are obese or simply prone to obesity, it is advisable (and many doctors recommend it) to check the blood sugar level, even if there are no external symptoms of incipient diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus treatment in women
Treatment of diabetes mellitus, like any other disease, has common features for all patients and partly an individual approach, since the correct treatment always takes into account the nature of the course of the disease, the degree and speed of development, the patient’s age, the presence of other diseases in which he may be allergic or intolerance to any drugs and similar features. General guidelines for diabetes management include:
- special diet;
- physical activity;
- tracking blood sugar levels.
For insulin-dependent patients (with type 1 diabetes), in addition to the above, insulin injections are necessary.
The most important thing that a person suffering from diabetes should take into their life, regardless of type, is a strict diet. It will allow not only to keep the blood sugar level, but also to bring it back to normal, lose weight, and adjust the metabolism. Exercise should be aimed at normalizing weight – you don’t have to exhaust yourself every day in the gym. The result will be moderate, but regular exercise in the form of long walking or light physical labor. It is enough for the body to be more or less in good shape, not to become “wooden”. Drug treatment is actively used in two cases:
- Insulin-dependent patients need the introduction of insulin into the body.
- If your diet fails to normalize your sugar level, you need to take special medications to lower it.
In connection with the first point, it should be noted that the dose of injected insulin must be strictly defined. The fact is that if you lower it, you can lose weight pretty quickly. It would seem that weight loss is just what you need, but there is a nuance. With a lack of insulin, water is excreted from the body, which is why such a rapid weight loss occurs . At the same time, for the same reason, the level of glucose in the blood rises, and this greatly harms the body and can lead to irreversible consequences. For women, treating diabetes is especially important because the disease affects reproductive function. It may be difficult for the fairer sex to bear the baby, and her illness is likely to affect the health of the fetus.
Nutrition for diabetes in women
The correct diet for a patient with diabetes mellitus is the basis for a relatively normal life. But this does not mean that you have to eat tasteless food, turning your life into sheer torment. The basis of the diet is to balance the intake of proteins, fats and carbohydrates and switch to those foods that the patient’s body is able to easily absorb. This is important because insulin is the hormone that is responsible for the digestion and assimilation of food, and when it is lacking, it is difficult for the body to cope with, so it cannot be overloaded with junk food once again. Ultimately, this diet develops into a proper and healthy diet that can be tasty and varied. When choosing food, you need to pay attention to two indicators:
- The glycemic index is the rate at which carbohydrates are broken down. For people with diabetes, foods with a glycemic index of no more than 75 units are allowed.
- Carbohydrate content. Prohibited are foods containing simple carbohydrates, which quickly break down and provoke a sharp jump in blood glucose. This includes all sugar-containing products. And foods with complex carbohydrates, on the contrary, will make an invaluable contribution to the work of the body. These include cereals, vegetables and fruits.
Women with diabetes need to eat a low-carb diet in order to lose weight and keep sugar levels in check.
As for dairy products, spicy and salty fatty cheeses, sweet curds, curd masses, glazed curds are excluded from the diet. As for drinks, unsweetened compotes, uzvar, unsweetened and not concentrated juices are useful. It is undesirable to drink coffee often. It is better to use green or herbal tea (from mint, lemon balm or chamomile), if black, then not strong. Allowed sweets and desserts with fructose, no sugar, with sweet and sour berries or fruits. Naturally, all products must be fresh and natural. High-carbohydrate foods should be excluded from the diet:
- fried food;
- smoked meats;
- salted, dried or dried fish, canned fish;
- smoked cheeses;
- semolina and rice porridge;
- fat meat;
- vegetable and fruit preservation;
- hot and salty sauces;
- heavy cream.
Chocolate is contraindicated. Drinking alcohol, sweet juices (in particular grape), carbonated drinks is strictly prohibited. In parallel with the diet, folk remedies are used – special herbal decoctions, which are sold in a pharmacy or prepared independently. But before using, be sure to consult your doctor.
Prevention of diabetes in women
As practice shows, in 90% of cases of diabetes mellitus, including among women, type 2 is common. And it is quite easy to prevent, and in many cases you can get rid of it altogether. To prevent the onset of the disease, it is enough to lead a healthy lifestyle. To prevent diabetes, actively move, do exercises and walk more, specially allocating time for this. The second aspect of effective prevention of diabetes in women is healthy eating. Even if a person is genetically predisposed to the disease, the right food does not allow this predisposition to manifest. If the disease has already been identified, then the same recommendations will help to minimize its manifestation, and often reduce to zero.