Diabetes mellitus (commonly called just diabetes) is one of the most commonly known and understood diseases in the medical community. This is because the current numbers state that in the United States alone millions of people have some form of diabetes. Many go undiagnosed for many years. In short, diabetes is really a series of ailments that are occurring within one’s body at the same time. However, there are many complicated and complex things that occur within a diabetic’s body. Therefore, it is highly important for medical practitioners to understand the anatomy and the physiology of diabetes to better treat the condition, especially along gender lines. The following is a discussion using scholarly articles on these themes.
It is important to discuss briefly what exactly diabetes is. There are three main types of known diabetes: Type 1 (juvenile of insulin dependent), Type 2 (adult onset diabetes), and Type 3 (a general category for a multiple causes like gestational diabetes) “It is group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. Patients with high blood sugar will typically experience polyuria (frequent urination), they will become increasingly thirsty (polydipsia) and hungry (polyphagia)” (CDC). Due to this change in blood sugar there are many conditions that can come from this, “heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States: (CDC). Due to this high number of cases and the high mortality rate it is very important to look at the impact of diabetes on the body more closely.
There are many possible causes for diabetes. One could get it during pregnancy, and studies have shown that it could be inherited, but it is most often linked to dietary choices. In addition, diabetes varies physiologically and anatomically between men and women, and even from person to person. Although, the cause and symptoms are predictable, the effects are not as easily measured. According to Aguilar “there are gender differences that should be considered when developing a treatment plan (eg, cardiovascular risk, psychosocial factors, coping strategies, and the perception of benefit from self-care) when managing those diagnosed with this disease and those at risk for developing it” (Aguilar 516).
Men typically are at risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, and several other factors posed a higher risk in men relative to women. These factors mostly include poor life style choices, like smoking, poor dietary practices, and the overconsumption of alcohol. Studies have shown that men can get diabetes if they have low testosterone level, because testosterone helps to build insulin. “Men once diagnosed with diabetes generally fare better than women regarding the risk for cardiovascular disease; they also have a better prognosis after a heart attack from artery blockage and a lower risk of death overall from cardiovascular disease that comes from diabetes” (Aguilar 517). However, men tend to be less concern about their health in general than women, and therefore “are less likely to utilize healthcare services, and are less informed about treatment options. Although men have a lower expectation of the benefit of self-management, they find support from family and friends more helpful than do women, but they are fearful of losing control of their disease” (Aguilar 518).
While men are more prone to getting Type 2 diabetes due to certain practices they may have. It is very rarely that their anatomy plays a major role in them getting the disease. Nevertheless, women are at much of a risk of developing both Type 2 and Type 3 diabetes, and their physiology and anatomy are directly related to this. According to Auryan and Itamar “In the past 30 years, the all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality rates for women with diabetes mellitus (DM) in contrast to men, have not declined. Furthermore, the difference between all-cause mortality rates in women with DM and those without DM has more than doubled (1135). Physiologically and anatomically diabetes is much harder on women than it is on men. Women are more prone to having certain health issues related to the female anatomy like yeast infections, menopausal symptoms like heat flashes, and even the cardio vascular issues that men experience. In fact women are more likely to experience this effect from diabetes than men. In addition, studies have linked genetic diabetes to mothers having the condition while pregnant. Pregnancy in itself can also cause diabetes due to body weight. The fact that women have a hard time with diabetes, have many in the medical field wondering should women be treated more aggressively for the condition.
“There are gender-specific differences in the care of DM. The large, prospective trials made in the past 20 years have assumed that efficiency of continuous glucose monitoring and lowering therapies, as well as management of hyperglycemic-related complications, could be attributable without distinction to men and women, whereas a much higher number of men than women were included in these trials and no gender-specific analysis of the results was made… Gender-specific diabetes care is in its infancy, and there is an urgent need to assess the specifics and the differences in the therapeutic management of women with DM” (Auryan and Itamar 1149-50).
Despite gender issues that arise from diabetes, the physiology and anatomy of diabetes is co complex, that the cases are typically unique by person. Diabetes is also a condition that can be unique to ethnic, racial, and because it is caused some by certain practices socio-economic groups as well. Diabetes can even be different among different age demographics and all this points to the complexity of the condition. The CDC points to this diversity in the statistics on diabetes. There are 25.6 million under the age of 20 and 10.9 million older than 65. 13 million men and 12.6 million women are diabetic over the age of 20. Nonwhite Hispanics make up 15.7 million of the cases while African Americas make up 4.9%. These only represent the diagnosed cases, and it is known that many of these groups go undiagnosed for many years, and “overall, the risk for death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people of similar age but without diabetes” (CDC). On whole in the country diabetes is costing 174 billion dollars in direct and indirect medical cost (CDC). Because of the varying complexity, it has been hard to get solid data on diabetes, although the number of new cases is on the rise. What is known is that physiologically and anatomically, the bodies differ among all of these different sub groups, and the effects of diabetes are different, and therefore treatment has to be specific along the lines of gender, race, ethnicity, and age. Programs should target certain communities that fall in certain socio-economic levels to ensure treatment and care.
Diabetes mellitus is a complicated and complex disease in the medical community. It varies across gender lines, where men and women experience it in different ways physiologically and anatomically, but adding to the complexity is that it also differs racially, ethnically, and according to age demographic. In addition, diabetes can affect one person’s body differently than it may affect someone in the same demographic. Unfortunately many people go undiagnosed and there is limited research on the specifics, however the number of diagnosed cases continues to rise, as does the direct and indirect cost associated. It is evident that more effort needs to be made by the medical community and the community at large to better understand diabetes.
Aguilar, Richard. "Managing Type 2 Diabetes in Men." The Journal of Family Practice, vol. 61, no. 6 Suppl, 2012, pp. S16-S21. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.
Auryan, Szalat, and Itamar Raz. "Gender-Specific Care Of Diabetes Mellitus: Particular Considerations In The Management Of Diabetic Women." Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism, vol. 10, no. 12, 2008, pp. 1135-1156.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.