At present there are over 246 million people affected from diabetes worldwide and almost half of these are women. Looking at figures of US, there are almost 21 million children and adults suffering from diabetes in which 9.7 million are women. But diabetes affects women adversely posing a greater risk to their health.
The following article is about how diabetes affects women in different stages of life.
Diabetes is found to cause various problems to women at any stage of life from adolescence, pregnancy and even at later stage of life. Women who suffer from diabetes are more vulnerable to heart attack as compared to women without diabetes.
How Diabetes Affects Women at Various Stages of Life?
- Adolescent Years (10-17 Years)
Eating disorders are more among young women with type 1 diabetes as compared to young women in the general population. Type 2 diabetes has emerged as a more common disease in young girls than boys.
By the age of 20 years, around 40%-60% of people having type 1 diabetes are found to show signs of retinopathy, or diabetic eye disease which if not treated can lead to blindness. The risk of development of retinopathy is higher in girls than boys.
- Reproductive Years (18-44 Years)
Around 1.3 million women in reproductive age suffer from diabetes out of which 500,000 don’t even know they have the disease. Type 2 diabetes happens more in people who had a history of diabetes during this life stage.
Women belonging to minority racial and ethnic groups are two to four times more vulnerable to type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic white women. Women who suffer from diabetes in reproductive years are less educated, have lower income, and are even not preferred for employment as compared to women without diabetes.
Most gestational diabetes is found to affect women with risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Their body is not able to secrete sufficient amount of insulin to overcome the increased insulin resistance due to pregnancy.
Although this form of diabetes ends after the baby is born but such women have a 20%-50% chance of suffering from type 2 diabetes in later years of life normally 5-10 years after childbirth.
Such children can become obese during childhood and adolescence and even suffer from type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Middle Years (45-64 Years)
As per the figures, around 3.8 million women in this age have diabetes. It is even the major reasons of death among middle-aged American women.
Coronary heart disease is a major cause of illness among middle-aged women having diabetes; rates are three to seven times higher in women in age group of 45-64 years as compared to those without diabetes.
Looking at figures of 2000, one in four women in the age of 45-64 years having diabetes had poor formal education, and one among three lived in a low-income house.
- Older Years (65 Years and Older)
There are about 4.0 million women who are aged 65 years or above having diabetes out of which one-quarter don’t have an idea that they have the disease. Type 2 diabetes is a more common form of diabetes in elderly women.
Women with diabetes are found to live longer than their male counterparts and that’s why elderly women having diabetes outnumber elderly men having diabetes. But still diabetes is the main causes of death in women aged 65 years and older.
Diabetes in old age invites other complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and even blindness. And elderly women with diabetes are more vulnerable to suffer from coronary heart disease, visual problems, hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, and depression in their lifespan.