If you are a woman and you fear that you might have gotten type 2 diabetes, you shouldn’t delay getting tested by your doctor. However, before you do that, it is good to look at some of the common signs and symptoms of having diabetes. Here are some common early signs that a woman has diabetes.
As uncomfortable and often embarrassing as they are, vaginal and urinary infections do tend to be early signs of having diabetes if you are female. Women who are getting repeated yeast infections or vaginal infections, often talk to their doctor, who will the run tests and may find evidence of type 2 diabetes. Infections like these typically cause vaginal discharge, odor, itching, and sometimes pain during intercourse, so if you have these symptoms, talk to your doctor. You may also be getting urinary infections, which happen more frequently for women who have diabetes.
If you have recently been diagnosed with PCOS or have symptoms of this condition, then it might also be an early warning sign of diabetes. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is closely linked to diabetes since both of them can be caused by insulin resistance. If you have unexplained weight gain, extra facial hair or hair loss, darkening of your skin, or missed periods, you may have PCOS. This can in turn lead to diabetes. Your doctor will provide treatment options that help with both conditions, so they can often be treated simultaneously.
More Early Signs and Symptoms
The rest of the signs and symptoms of diabetes are for both men and women. As a woman, you might have any of these symptoms:
Weight changes – You may notice that your weight fluctuates rapidly without you making any changes, either with weight loss or weight gain.
Eye health issues – Diabetes is linked with eye changes due to the condition, so if you have signs of glaucoma, cataracts, or blurry vision, you might also have diabetes.
Fatigue – Increased fatigue and sluggishness are very common among women and men with diabetes. If you are getting plenty of sleep, but the fatigue never seems to go away, it is time to talk to a doctor.
Increased thirst – Dry mouth and increased thirst and hunger are also common early symptoms of diabetes.
Dizziness – People with type 2 diabetes who don’t treat it properly often experience severe sugar crashes from the high blood sugar levels, which can cause dizziness and fainting.
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I wanted to talk about this topic because it is absolutely possible to prevent and even reverse Type 2 Diabetes (but you cannot reverse Type 1). Yes, it’s possible! and emerging studies looking at lifestyle medicine and prevention support this! But I always tell my patients that you must be dedicated and diligent in adopting a healthy lifestyle to get the best results. You can create certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, to help break the cycle of this chronic disease so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve your blood sugar levels, maybe reverse type 2 diabetes. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy.
Tools For Diabetes Prevention and Monitoring
Blood Sugar Monitoring
As you know, I always stress the importance of taking control of your health. Monitoring your blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to do this. To do this, a single drop of blood is collected with disposable lancets and placed on a disposable test strip, which you insert into a home blood-sugar monitoring device, called a glucometer.
The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up (fasting), before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime; however, you should check your blood sugar as many times a day as your health care team suggests.
Monitoring your blood sugar level provides you and your doctors with important knowledge about how food, activity, medication, stress, and other elements might affect your blood sugar levels. This data will assist you and your doctor in developing a therapy plan that is suited to your demands.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices):
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity actually improves insulin sensitivity. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Here are some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet and regular physical activity are the best ways to prevent diabetes. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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