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Is Diabetes Different for Men and Women?

October 21, 2011

Free lecture focuses on what women can do to manage their diabetes

 

Diabetes is a serious illness that affects more than 20 million people in the United States. More than 9 million American women have diabetes, and 3 million don’t know it! 

Statistics also reveal that 11.8 percent of adult American males have diabetes, while 10.8 percent of adult American women have the disease. Yet, the news is more ominous for women. For one thing, the outlook for women is more serious. Projections indicate that the number of women with diabetes will increase 220 percent by the year 2050, while the number of men with diabetes is expected to increase by 174 percent during that same time period. 

Some other serious facts include:

 

  • Women with diabetes are more likely to have a heart attack and have it at a younger age than men.
  •  Some women get diabetes when they are pregnant.
  •  Women who have diabetes are more likely to have a miscarriage or a baby with birth defects.
  • Women with diabetes, according to recent studies, are more likely to be poor, which makes it harder to manage the disease.
  •  The most common causes of death for people with diabetes are heart attack or stroke.

 

 

Diabetes is a disease that changes the way your body uses food. When you are healthy, the food you eat turns to sugar. The sugar then travels through the blood to all parts of the body.

“Normally, insulin helps get sugar from the blood to the body's cells, where it is used for energy,” explains Vida Reed, RN, coordinator of the Diabetes Program at Washington Hospital. “When you have diabetes, your body has trouble making and/or using insulin. So, your body does not get the fuel it needs; and your blood sugar stays too high.” 

These topics and other related information will be the subject of a free evening lecture, “Women and Diabetes,” to be held on Wednesday, November 2 at 7 p.m. in the Washington Women’s Center, Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, Suite 145, in Fremont. Reed, who is a certified diabetes educator, will be the speaker. To reserve your space, register online at www.whhs.com or call (800) 963-7070.

There are two types of diabetes. In type 1, the body does not make any insulin. People with type1 diabetes must take insulin every day to stay alive. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin or use insulin well. Most people with diabetes have type 2.

“Understanding your risk for diabetes is the first step in prevention,” says Reed.

Ask yourself these questions and, if you answer yes to any of them, talk to your doctor about whether you need to be tested for diabetes:

 

  • Do you need to lose weight?
  • Do you get little or no exercise?
  • Do you have high blood pressure (130/80 or higher)?
  • Do you have a brother or sister with diabetes?
  • Do you have a parent with diabetes?
  •  Are you a woman who had diabetes when you were pregnant, or have you had a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds at birth?
  •  Are you African American, Native American, Hispanic or Asian American/Pacific Islander?

 

“There are also warning signs that may indicate you have diabetes, and most people do not recognize these signs,” Reed continues.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should discuss them with your physician:  

  • Going to the bathroom frequently
  • Feeling hungry or thirsty all the time
  • Having blurred vision
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Having cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Experiencing tingling or numbness in the hands or feet

If you have diabetes there is good news! 

Diabetes can be controlled by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising, as well as using FDA-approved medicines, insulin and devices every day. There is no one diet for people with diabetes. Work with your health care team to come up with a plan for you. Be active at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week. Exercise helps your body's insulin work better. It also lowers your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. In addition to the “Women and Diabetes” lecture, Washington Hospital will sponsor a free Diabetes Health Fair for the community on Saturday, November 19. The event will help to educate people about different aspects of diabetes care, including treatment and nutrition. Free screenings for glucose and cholesterol will be available. To register for the Diabetes Health Fair, visit www.whhs.com and click on Upcoming Health Seminars.

 

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