Men are nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes than women. This is uncommon, as many or most diseases of that nature tend to be more common in women.
“Type I diabetes is the only major organ-specific autoimmune disorder not to show a strong female bias,” a study published in the National Library of Medicine states. The researchers went further to state that fathers with Type 1 diabetes are more common to pass that to their children than mothers are.
As a result, women may not be as mindful of some of the warning signs. The longer the disease goes unchecked, the worse medical conditions can become. It’s important to know and understand the warning signs and symptoms of diabetes experienced by men and women alike, as well as those only seen in women.
Type 1 diabetes sets in quickly and the symptoms are often more severe. That’s because the immune system begins attacking its own cells that produce insulin, leading to severe reactions like nausea, stomach pain, and vomiting. Type 2 diabetes, however, develops slowly over the years and are harder to spot. Many people may not notice the symptoms even if they’ve been going on for a long time. Being more aware of the tell-tale signs of diabetes and prediabetes can help keep you and your loved ones safe.
Symptoms Experienced by Women
Since diabetes leads glucose levels to rise, yeast can overgrow as blood sugar levels spike. That can lead to vaginal yeast infections, causing pain, itching, and discharge.
The problem is, that yeast infections have several causes and are extremely common. 75% of women have one in their lifetimes, and about half of women will have more than that. Sexual activity, antibiotics, birth control pills, and more can result in one, so women may not think they have diabetes simply because they get a yeast infection.
Diabetes can also lead to oral yeast infections, called thrush. Those result in white patches within the mouth, leading to difficulty and discomfort while eating.
Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs are also extremely common in women with diabetes. Diabetes leads to high blood glucose levels, raising the risk of UTI; it worsens circulation, which makes it harder for white blood cells to reach where they need to be to fight infections; and it leads bladders to not empty as well as they should, making leftover urine become a bacteria hub.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
When women produce too much of certain types of hormones while diabetic, they reach a higher risk of developing PCOS. It affects up to 12% of women and can cause infertility. It leads to insulin resistance, and can result in diabetes, or can arise because of diabetes itself.
Diabetes can lead to extreme complications during pregnancy. In the first trimester, unchecked blood sugar levels can lead to fetal birth defects, miscarriage, or oversized fetuses. The newborn will likely have low blood sugar in their first days outside the womb. Gestational diabetes can also develop during pregnancy, increasing the risk of preeclampsia, premature birth, and stillbirth.
Symptoms Experienced by Everyone
Many symptoms of diabetes are not unique to women and instead are experienced by anyone with diabetes.
Hard to Notice
One of the problems with some diabetes symptoms is that they can be very difficult to pinpoint and very easy to pass off as something that isn’t a big deal or is caused by regular environmental factors.
Increase in Hunger or Thirst
Some symptoms, like an increase in thirst or hunger, might not be something a person views as a symptom, but rather an objective experience. People might feel thirstier and figure the air quality must be bothering them; they might feel hungry and think they’ve been exerting themselves more, or not sleeping well.
Increase in Urination Frequency
Diabetics may also find themselves having to go to the bathroom more often. Since it also tends to make people thirstier, they may figure that they’ve been drinking more fluids, and thus urinating more often. The actual reasoning can be quite dangerous. Diabetes causes glucose to build up in the blood, forcing the kidneys to work harder to absorb it. When your kidneys start falling short of that job, the glucose goes into your urine, bringing hydrating fluids from your tissues with it. That makes you dehydrated, leading you to drink more water, and then urinate even more often in a brutal and hard-to-spot cycle.
Feelings of Fatigue
Fatigue is another symptom that people can go months without thinking it may be the result of an illness, rather than the result of day-to-day circumstances and stresses. Diabetics of any sex also often feel irritable as a result of their disease, but don’t think to attribute that feeling to a medical condition.
Another common issue is the length of time it takes wounds to heal. You may notice a cut or bruise seeming very slow to go away but might attribute that to your aging. The older a person is, the more slowly their cells divide, making their skin thinner and easier to injure, then slower to heal.
Diabetics’ immune systems may struggle to activate, reducing the number of cells sent to fight bacteria and heal wounds. Diabetes can also cause circulation issues, making it harder for the body to get the necessary cells and nutrients to wounds, which also makes it take longer to heal them. That’s a very dangerous prospect because the longer lesions take to close, the greater the risk of infection. Foot ulcers develop in as many as 25% of diabetics, and the problem can compound if the person has nerve issues in their extremities that make them slow to notice the wound.