How are PCOS and Diabetes related?
It has been seen that women suffering with PCOS most often develop chronic complications lasting life-long, one of them being Diabetes Mellitus. It is important that PCOS ne diagnosed early to obviate the complications associated with it and achieve as much control as possible, if not cure.
One important link between PCOS and Diabetes Mellitus is Insulin Resistance.
Insulin, secreted by the pancreas, has a vital role to play in controlling glucose levels in the blood. Whenever the body senses high glucose levels in the blood, mainly after having a meal-it releases insulin from the pancreas. This insulin will control the glucose levels in the blood by having the cells of the body to absorb the glucose and use this to produce energy.
When a person has insulin resistance, it means the person’s body secretes enough insulin, but the cells of the body lose their sensitivity to insulin, leading to slowed response. The response rate of the cells to insulin may get worsened over time ending in complete loss of sensitivity. This deficit can manifest into high glucose levels in the blood, leading to pre-diabetes and later diabetes.
Insulin is known as an appetite stimulant, and people with high insulin levels frequently experience craving for sugar and sweet substances, which can further lead to high glucose levels in the blood worsening diabetes and associated complications.
PCOS, Insulin Resistance and Diabetes Mellitus-A triple edged sword:
Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the cells of the body become resistant to insulin, an abnormal amount of insulin is made, or both. While type 2 diabetes is typically preventable or manageable through physical exercise and a proper diet, research has shown strong links between diabetes mellitus and PCOS. In fact, women who experience PCOS in young adulthood are at an elevated risk for diabetes and, potentially, fatal heart problems, later in life.
Diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus in PCOS:
When women are diagnosed with PCOS, they are immediately also tested for Insulin Resistance and Diabetes Mellitus
Tests used to screen for insulin resistance include:
Fasting blood glucose test: You will be instructed to abstain from food and drinks for a specific amount of time before your blood is drawn to check your blood sugar level. If your level is elevated, your doctor may want you to take further tests to determine how your body processes sugar.
Glucose tolerance test: Your blood sugar level will be checked, and then you will be given a special drink containing sugar. Your blood sugar will then be measured at designated intervals after you have consumed the drink to see how long it takes for your cells to process the sugar. If your glucose levels remain elevated for longer than normal, this may indicate that you are becoming resistant to insulin.
Glycosylated hemoglobin A1C: This is a blood test that measures your average glucose levels over the past three months.