Posted on November 13, 2017

According to Ms. Manal Othman, Director of Diabetes Education at HMC, while many of the symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the same in both men and women, some indicators and complications of the diseases are unique to women.

Diabetes describes a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar due to problems processing or producing insulin. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age but is most commonly diagnosed in childhood. With this type of diabetes, a person’s pancreas produces no insulin (a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels).  Type 2 diabetes can also occur at any age but usually affects those over 40. Individuals with Type 2 diabetes either don’t make enough insulin or don’t make insulin that the body can use properly.  Diabetes can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or lifestyle; however, according to Ms. Othman, women may be at greater risk of the disease’s complications due to limited knowledge about symptoms that are unique to females.

“Both men and women with diabetes experience many of the same symptoms, such as increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss or gain, blurred vision, and fatigue. However, women with diabetes may also experience other symptoms such as vaginal and oral yeast infections, itching or pain, urinary tract infection (UTI), and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). These symptoms are not recognized by most women, and even by some healthcare professionals, as warning signs for diabetes. This lack of knowledge can result in the disease being initially misdiagnosed or even undiagnosed,” cautioned Ms. Othman.

She went on to say that diabetes also affects men and women differently, with women being more susceptible to fatal heart disease. “Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease. Almost two-thirds of patients with diabetes die from cardiovascular disease. Recent studies suggest that death by heart failure is more common in women than in men. Many studies have also found that women with diabetes are at greater risk than men of kidney disease, depression, and high blood pressure,” said Ms. Othman.

According to Ms. Othman, pregnant women are urged to seek proper prenatal care, ensuring they have their blood sugar level tested. She added that one in four births in Qatar is affected by gestational diabetes. “Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth. It can occur at any stage of pregnancy but is more common in the second half. It occurs when a woman’s body cannot produce enough insulin to meet the extra needs in pregnancy. This form of diabetes often has no symptoms but it can be very dangerous for a woman and her unborn child, so screening for gestational diabetes is extremely important,” said Ms. Othman.

In recognition of World Diabetes Day, held annually on 14 November, HMC has planned a full month of activities to highlight the importance of diabetes awareness, education, and research. Find out more about HMC’s diabetes awareness campaign and learn how to access a free diabetes screening in Qatar by visiting hamad.qa.

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