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Diabetes and Your Health

November 13, 2019 • Natacha Mugeni

Diabetes is a chronic disease that impairs blood sugar regulation in the body. It is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, amputation, heart disease, kidney failure and early death.

There are 3 main types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common and affect many people.

Many more people have blood sugar levels above the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes. This is sometimes known as pre-diabetes. 

It’s very important for diabetes to be diagnosed as early as possible because it will get progressively worse if left untreated.

Some risk factors for type 2 diabetes:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Overweight
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Increasing age
  • High blood pressure
  • Ethnicity
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Poor nutrition during pregnancy

Both men and women can develop diabetes, but some symptoms are more likely to affect women.

Women and Diabetes

Within types of diabetes, there is a specific type that is only developed by women and occurs during pregnancy; where some women have such high levels of blood glucose that their body is unable to produce enough insulin to absorb it all. This is known as gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition of high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth; It can happen at any stage of pregnancy, but is more common in the second or third trimester.

Any woman can develop gestational diabetes but those whom that had it in previous pregnancies, has a family history of diabetes and/or are overweight are at high risk of developing it again.

Gestational diabetes can cause problems for you and your baby during pregnancy and after birth. But the risks can be reduced if the condition is detected early and well managed.

Approximately half of women with a history of Gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery.

Diabetes complications in women

Women with diabetes have more to manage compared to men with diabetes:

  • Women are at high risk of complications such as blindness, kidney disease, and depression
  • The risk of getting heart disease as the most common diabetes complication, is about four times in women while it is only about two times in men
  • Women with diabetes are at high risk of getting vaginal yeast infection especially when their blood sugar levels are high compared to other women
  • Diabetes can make it harder for women to get pregnant
  • High blood sugar in pregnant women can increase risks of preeclampsia;it can also increase delivery by cesarean section(c-section) and miscarriage or stillbirth.

Living with diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition, but people with it can live longer and healthier with good diabetes management.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll need to:

  • Eat healthier
  • Conduct physical exercise regularly
  • Regularly check your blood sugar levels to keep them balanced
  • Correct use of medication if you are taking any
  • Drink a lot of water, wear cotton underwear to prevent yeast and urinary tract infections
  • Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any sexual issues , menopause symptoms and your birth control options.

Is diabetes preventable?

Over 50% of  type 2 diabetes is preventable, and this is possible by: 

  • Adopting a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Eat healthy meals and exercise regularly
  • Be aware of the risks, the warning signs to look out for  and what you can do to prevent diabetes and its complications
  • Check regularly your blood sugar levels especially during your pregnancy

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