Millions of American women are living with type 2 diabetes, and millions more are at risk of developing the condition. The number of new diabetes cases continues to rise along with rising obesity rates—one of the major risk factors.
Both women and men alike may be able to lower their risk of developing diabetes by adopting healthier habits, such as following a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Of course, healthy habits alone cannot guarantee that you won’t get diabetes, but they definitely give you the upper hand in helping to prevent this chronic and serious health condition.
Here are five ways you may be able to prevent type 2 diabetes:
Common Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes include excessive thirst, unexplained fatigue, frequent urination and blurred vision. Keep in mind, however, that many women don’t experience these warning signs or confuse them for another condition. This is why so many women don’t even realize they have type 2 diabetes until they go to the doctor with a complication of the disease, such as neuropathy.
Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
The major risk factors for type 2 diabetes are heredity and obesity. Diabetes risk also increases with age. Hypothyroidism, steroid therapies and some medications may also increase risk. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 60% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can be especially difficult for perimenopausal and menopausal women. Hormonal fluctuations make it more difficult to control blood sugar. Elevated blood sugar makes it easier to pick up infections, especially yeast infections. Hormone shifts can increase food cravings, leading to indulgences that women living with diabetes should avoid.
When to Be Screened for Type 2 Diabetes
A blood glucose screening is recommended for overweight women who have one or more additional risk factors, such as a family history of diabetes. Women without risk factors should be tested at age 45, with follow-up tests every three years to check that blood sugar levels remain in a safe range.