Women may have unique diabetes symptoms: Expert tips to handle them


One might think that diseases like diabetes, hypertension will show similar symptoms. But that’s not entirely true. There are some symptoms that are unique to men or women. If we take the case of diabetes for example, one would think that the classic signs are frequent urination, increased thirst and cloudy or painful urine. However, women may experience a different onset of symptoms.
Talking about the diabetes symptoms in women, Dr Pramila Kalra, MD DM(ENDO) MAMS FACE FRCP (EDIN), Professor and head, department of Endocrinology, Ramaiah Medical College and Hospitals, Bengaluru, shares, “There are some diabetes symptoms that are unique to women. Women with diabetes may experience vaginal fungal infections and frequent urinary tract infections. The chances of heart problems are three to four times higher in women as compared to two to three times in men if they have diabetes. Additionally, women with uncontrolled diabetes may experience menstrual irregularities, infertility issues, and sexual dysfunction, including decreased libido and vaginal dryness.”

Dr. Ashok Kumar Jhingan, Senior Director, Centre For Diabetes, Thyroid, Obesity & Endocrinology, BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital further adds, “Diabetes management in men and women can differ in several ways. Men are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, and typically at a younger age, than women. For women, hormonal changes such as pregnancy may affect their blood glucose levels and can put them at greater risk for developing diabetes. Additionally, women may be at a higher risk of certain diabetes-related complications, such as heart disease and depression.
Should diabetics eat every two hours?

Endocrinologist & diabetologist, Dr. Piya Ballani Thakkar, Diplomate, American Board of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism Internal Medicine, MD – Ob/Gyn (Mumbai) , DNB, DGO, FCPS, FACE explains, “It’s crucial for diabetics to maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day, which can be achieved by eating regular meals. However, the frequency and timing of meals and snacks may vary depending on an individual’s needs and preferences.

Dr Pramila adds, “People with diabetes should follow a diet that is high in fiber, plenty of vegetables, low fats, and zero trans fats with complex carbohydrates and good amounts of protein such as pulses and/or non-vegetarian food. The intake of fruits can be allowed 100 to 150 gms a day, depending on glucose control. They should also limit their intake of processed foods, alcohol, and sugary drinks and focus on eating whole, nutrient-dense foods.”

Are sugary fruits safe for diabetics?

Dr Jhingan shares, “We all know fruits and vegetables are good for us. In fact, fruits make for a great snack option. Choosing fruits as snacks provide you with vitamins, minerals and fibre. And if you are wondering that fruits have sugar and thus if they must be avoided. No, you must not. Whole fruits are good for everyone, even for diabetics. Fruits have natural sugar, which does not harm the body. Choose whole fruits instead of fruit juices. Having small portions throughout the day is better than having a big portion once a day.”

How to manage diabetes symptoms

To avoid yeast infections and UTIs, it is important to keep blood sugar levels as close to the target range as possible. Some other ways to prevent UTIs are to drink lots of water, wear cotton undergarments, and urinate often instead of waiting until your bladder is full.

Does diabetes make the heart vulnerable?

Diabetes can make the heart vulnerable and increase the risk of developing cardiovascular complications.

Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. People with diabetes are also more likely to have other conditions that raise the risk for heart disease: High blood pressure increases the force of blood through your arteries and can damage artery walls, shares Dr Jhingan.

High blood glucose levels can damage blood vessels, accelerate atherosclerosis and cause endothelial dysfunction, leading to complications such as heart attack, heart enlargement, and failure. Additionally, diabetes is associated commonly with increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity, all risk factors for heart disease.

Chest pain and breathlessness can be signs of uncontrolled diabetes, but they can also be caused by other conditions. It is essential to seek medical attention and get a cardiac evaluation done if someone experiences chest pain or breathlessness, as they can be symptoms of a heart attack or other serious conditions.

Dr Jhingan says, “If you have prediabetes or type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you should be aware of the symptoms of heart disease, including: Chest pain, also known as angina, including feelings of chest tightness or pressure. Shortness of breath. Fainting or near fainting. High blood sugar, high blood pressure and cholesterol problems raise risk for heart events, but nerve damage can make warning signs of an attack impossible to feel. People with diabetes may have an impaired perception of chest pain.

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