With February being devoted to women’s heart health, you ‘re probably seeing a lot of statistics relating to heart attacks, strokes and other issues. While these conditions are alarming, others may also lead to a serious risk to your health, and in some cases, a higher risk of losing your life too soon. Diabetes is known as the silent killer, because symptoms are easier to ignore and it isn’t an issue that gets a lot of attention in the media. However, it can be very serious for women and should be given the attention that it deserves.
What is Diabetes?
There are actually three main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes used to be known as juvenile diabetes, as it was generally diagnosed in minors. Type 2 diabetes can become an issue at any time, but more often as you enter your adult years. A third type of diabetes, known as gestational diabetes, affects pregnant women.
Type 1 diabetes is different than the other designations, in that it’s mainly a genetic issue. Patients with this form of the disease have bodies that don’t produce adequate amounts of insulin. Less than 10% of patients fall into this category. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, may be characterized as more of a lifestyle disease. While there are genetic links to increased risk, many women find that their diet is the main risk factor. Type 2 diabetics either stop producing enough insulin or their body’s cells lose their ability to recognize and use the substance to balance blood sugar.
Gestational diabetes is a bit of a mystery. It affects younger women as much as older mothers. It doesn’t seem to be particularly attached to any particular background or ethnicity. While doctors aren’t exactly sure why some women have trouble processing insulin during pregnancy, it does seem to be related to the hormones interfering with the proper action of insulin, as well as the increased load to the mother’s body systems. Children of mother’s with gestational diabetes are often born with extremely high birth weight, due to excessive glucose being passed through the placenta.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
If you have a family history of diabetes, or suspect that you may be dealing with the disease, talk to your doctor about being tested. Diagnosis is accomplished via simple testing that can be done at your doctor’s office. Your blood sugar numbers will be the most conclusive data used. Also, you should know the most common symptoms, so you can keep an eye on your risk. Many diabetics experience constant thirst, hunger, weight loss, frequent urination, numbness in the extremities and even blurred vision. Take any of these symptoms very seriously, especially if you have a family history. Plus, keep in mind that some women experience none of these symptoms, but still suffer from diabetes.
Treatment and Prevention
Most doctors take several steps to manage diabetes. First, you’ll probably need to be monitoring your blood sugar. Type 1 and 2 diabetics will need to test their blood sugar levels every single day. Medication will probably be prescribed to control the condition and help you manage. Depending on the scope of your condition, insulin injections may be necessary. In severe cases, transplants may be performed to regain balance in your body.
When it comes to managing your diabetes, there is probably no one medical intervention that will be as important as what you eat. A properly balanced eating plan is the best form of prevention for diabetic patients and those that are at risk. In some cases, patients with full blown symptoms can reverse their condition by taking dietary measures. Being physically active also decreases the risk of developing diabetes.
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