Women are just as likely to develop diabetes as men. In addition, they have their own type of diabetes: gestational diabetes is specific to pregnant women only. The signs and symptoms of the three types of diabetes women may develop are similar, and may appear at various stages throughout the disease. Being aware of the signs can not only help diagnose diabetes in women but can help avoid potentially serious complications of the disease.
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Diabetic ketoacidosis is responsible for a number of diabetes symptoms, the first of which is excessive thirst. Excessive thirst associated with diabetes is not the same as just being thirsty. Rather, you may feel your thirst is insatiable. No matter how much water or other liquids you drink, you may still feel parched.
Diabetic ketoacidosis can also lead to unusual levels of fatigue. This type of fatigue is more than just a feeling of tiredness. Rather, you may feel like you can barely keep your eyes open. Fatigue associated with diabetes may also leave you feeling weak, and make movement and activity difficult.
Unusual Weight Loss
Women with type 1 diabetes, sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes, lose the ability to make enough insulin for proper breakdown of food. Without this ability, little sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream and weight loss can follow.
Unusual Weight Gain
During pregnancy, the body's need for insulin may increase beyond what it can produce. While this is not often discovered until the second or third trimester, rapid or excessive weight gain beyond what is expected during pregnancy can be an indicator of gestational diabetes.
Diabetes may also affect how efficiently the kidneys function. Urinary frequency that is unusual can be an indicator of too much glucose in the bloodstream. This can occur when insulin levels are not sufficient to break glucose down for absorption.
Too much unabsorbed glucose in the bloodstream can also effect how efficiently the eyes function. Because of this, visual problems (such as blurred vision) are a common symptom of diabetes in women.
Decreased Sensation in Hands and Feet
A common complication of diabetes, and potential warning sign, is decreased sensation in the hands and feet. Some women may even experience diabetic neuropathy, or pain, in their hands and feet. Diabetes can cause nerve damage, often in the extremities, which can impair sensation or lead to nerve pain.
Another complication of decreased sensation in the hands and feet is the tendency to overlook wounds. It is possible to step on a sharp object and not notice, which can lead to wounds and ulcers. Because circulation is often less efficient in women with diabetes, wounds take more time to heal. If you notice you have a slow or non-healing wound, especially on your legs or feet, it may be a sign of diabetes.
Positive Blood Glucose Test
Some women with diabetes have no symptoms at all, and may only be diagnosed with a blood glucose test. While this is not performed routinely, women with risk factors for diabetes are strongly encouraged to get tested regularly. This includes women with high blood pressure, women who are obese, women with a family history of diabetes and women with high cholesterol.