He Said, She Said – How Diabetes Affects the Sexes Differently

Although men are more likely to get diabetes, women are hardest hit by the disease emotionally and psychologically, a new survey has shown. Their roles as homemakers, carers and often employment outside the home on top make them feel overwhelmed when they are diagnosed. Additionally, these negative feelings may make it harder for them to follow the diet and lifestyle advice their doctor gives them.

Sponsored by the online healthcare company WebMD and the leading drugstore chain Rite Aid, the study found women were more likely than men to have a negative reaction to their diagnosis. Half the women surveyed reported that they felt “overwhelmed” by what had happened to them. In addition, only just over half the women felt in control of their condition, compared to around two thirds of men.

Diabetes affects both sexes with symptoms that are common to both, and both men and women are liable to suffer health complications if they do not mange their diabetes well. Diabetes affects some 27 million Americans, with 90% of these being type 2 diabetics, the type that commonly affects older people who are overweight. While both sexes are equally likely to get diabetes, men seem to develop it at a lower BMI than women, so statistically they are more prone to get the disease earlier.

Complications that can arise are heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, kidney failure, eyesight damage and nerve damage leading to numbness that can lead to gangrene and even amputation. To avoid these issues it is important that all diabetics control their symptoms by keeping their weight down, taking plenty of exercise and eating healthily, with less fat, sugar and starch and more fresh vegetables, fruit and fiber. Many diabetics will also be given medication to control their blood sugar levels.

The study found that women were less likely to enjoy a healthy lifestyle than men – busy moms who perhaps also have a job have less time and freedom to go out jogging, visit the gym or otherwise achieve the ideal of 30 minutes exercise a day. The study also showed women were less likely than men to avoid sugary, salty snacks, with 56% of men refusing these unhealthy items, compared to only 45% of women.

However, the survey did show that women, and particularly those aged 45 to 64, were keen to help themselves using any facilities that are available to them, such as online resources. They were happy to make use of email magazines, diabetic recipes and other helpful information, plus savings on diabetic related products, such as those available on Rite Aid’s site. They also showed they were enthusiastic about using resources like meal planners, recipes, online glucose trackers, lifestyle management information and exercise schedules like those to be found on the WebMD site.

Previous studies have shown that having regular access to information and resources that a doctor or pharmacist can offer does help diabetics to stay on track with their diabetes management. Online resources have been shown to be helpful for diabetics, offering help, ideas and motivation that is available round the clock to users.

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