Diabetes in women: Expert recommends women should start monitoring blood sugar early from 25 years of age – Times of India

Diabetes affects women way differently than it affects men. As per a 2020 research study, more than one in 10 women aged between 35 and 49 suffer from diabetes in India. The study found that at least 50 districts out of 640 have high prevalence of the disease; among these districts are Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The occurence of diabetes in women is the highest in the southern and eastern parts of the country, the study found.

The study was published online in the May 2020 issue of the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders.

India is called the “diabetes capital of the world”

With every 5th person in the world being an Indian, India is often referred to as the “diabetes capital of the world”. In 2019, 77 million adults in the country were suffering from diabetes.

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Traditionally, diseases are rarely spoken of in the context of women.

Women’s health is mostly ignored in our household. Always considered a caregiver and a nurturer, a woman hardly has anyone to take care of her health.

Several studies have found that diabetes-related mortality is higher among women in India.

A 2021 study titled “Unequal burden of equal risk factors of diabetes between different gender in India: a cross-sectional analysis” though the overall prevalence of diabetes is higher among men, in urban areas women belonging to Christian category (3.92%), richer section (3.22%), women with no schooling (2.51%), those reported never to consume pulses (2.66%) and green vegetables (2.40%) and daily consuming eggs (3.66%) and chicken or meat (3.54%) are more affected by diabetes than their men counterparts. Studies have also seen a big change between the prevalence of diabetes among urban and rural populations.

Read: What is the right age to start monitoring blood cholesterol?

In view of the prevalence of diabetes in women, we at ETimes-TOI spoke to Dr. V. Mohan – Chairman and Chief Diabetologist of Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre on the topic including the signs, symptoms, risk factors and other risks associated with it.

ETimes-TOI: At what age women are more prone to develop diabetes?

Dr. V. Mohan: Women can get diabetes at any age. During puberty and adolescence, they can get both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The risk for women to get type 2 diabetes remains slightly lower than men till they reach menopause. After menopause, the risk for both type 2 diabetes and heart disease markedly increases for women.

ETimes-TOI: How does it affect them?
Dr. V. Mohan:
Women in general seem to be less physically active and tend to put on weight quickly. This makes them more prone to get type 2 diabetes. Very often they also have more stress because of domestic and other issues which can also affect them adversely.

ETimes-TOI: What is the right age for women to start monitoring their blood sugar level?
Dr. V. Mohan:
If there is no family history of diabetes, women can start screening for diabetes by the age 25 or 30 years.

For those who have a family history of diabetes, it is better to start the screening from the age of 20. In case, they have symptoms of diabetes even during adolescents they can be tested.

ETimes-TOI: What are the early signs of diabetes in women? What are the symptoms exclusively seen in women?
Dr. V. Mohan:
The signs are basically the same as in men.

Excessive thirst, urination, wounds which do not heal and tiredness are the usual symptoms.

Genital infections are quite often the first sign. However, if they have vulvovaginitis one should immediately rule out diabetes.

ETimes-TOI: Is there risk of other serious diseases?

Dr. V. Mohan: Yes, if they have diabetes, they already probably have obesity, they are also more prone to hypertension, dyslipidemia (increased cholesterol) and heart disease. In addition, those who have diabetes are more prone to certain cancers eg. breast cancer and uterine cancer are more common among those with diabetes.

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