What is Diabetes?
A metabolic disease in which the body’s inability to produce any or enough insulin causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood.
Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce any insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus most commonly develops in adulthood and is more likely to occur in people who are overweight and physically inactive
What are symptoms?
Excessive thirst and frequent urination are classic symptoms of diabetes.
If your insulin is ineffective, or not there at all, your kidneys cannot filter the glucose back into the blood.
If you are urinating more than usual, you will need to replace that lost liquid. You will be drinking more than usual.
As the insulin in your blood is not working properly, or is not there at all, and your cells are not getting their energy, your body may react by trying to find more energy – food. You will become hungry.
This might be the result of the above symptom (intense hunger).
Unusual weight loss
This is more common among people with Diabetes Type 1. As your body is not making insulin it will seek out another energy source (the cells aren’t getting glucose). Muscle tissue and fat will be broken down for energy. As Type 1 is of a more sudden onset and Type 2 is much more gradual, weight loss is more noticeable with Type 1.
If your insulin is not working properly, or is not there at all, glucose will not be entering your cells and providing them with energy. This will make you feel tired and listless.
Irritability can be due to your lack of energy.
This can be caused by tissue being pulled from your eye lenses. This affects your eyes’ ability to focus. With proper treatment this can be treated. There are severe cases where blindness or prolonged vision problems can occur.
Cuts and bruises don’t heal properly or quickly
Do you find cuts and bruises take a much longer time than usual to heal? When there is more sugar (glucose) in your body, its ability to heal can be undermined.
More skin and/or yeast infections
When there is more sugar in your body, its ability to recover from infections is affected. Women with diabetes find it especially difficult to recover from bladder and vaginal infections.
A feeling of itchiness on your skin is sometimes a symptom of diabetes.
Gums are red and/or swollen – Gums pull away from teeth
If your gums are tender, red and/or swollen this could be a sign of diabetes. Your teeth could become loose as the gums pull away from them.
Frequent gum disease/infection
As well as the previous gum symptoms, you may experience more frequent gum disease and/or gum infections.
Sexual dysfunction among men
If you are over 50 and experience frequent or constant sexual dysfunction (erectile dysfunction), it could be a symptom of diabetes.
Numbness or tingling, especially in your feet and hands
If there is too much sugar in your body your nerves could become damaged, as could the tiny blood vessels that feed those nerves. You may experience tingling and/or numbness in your hands and feet.
What increases your risk?
Risk factors for type 1 diabetes
- Family history.
- Environmental factors.
- The presence of damaging immune system cells (autoantibodies).
- Dietary factors. These include low vitamin D consumption.
- Geography. Certain countries, such as Finland and Sweden, have higher rates of type 1 diabetes.
Risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes
- Weight. The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin.
- Inactivity. The less active you are, the greater your risk
- Family history. Your risk increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
- Race. Although it’s unclear why, people of certain races — including blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans — are at higher risk.
- Age. Your risk increases as you get older.
- Gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, your risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes later increases. If you gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds (4 kilograms), you’re also at risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. For women, having polycystic ovary syndrome — a common condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity — increases the risk of diabetes.
- High blood pressure. Having blood pressure over 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If you have low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol, your risk of type 2 diabetes is higher. People with high levels of triglycerides have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes
Any pregnant woman can develop gestational diabetes, but some women are at greater risk than are others. Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:
- Age. Women older than age 25 are at increased risk.
- Family or personal history. Your risk increases if you have prediabetes — a precursor to type 2 diabetes — or if a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has type 2 diabetes. You’re also at greater risk if you had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy, if you delivered a very large baby or if you had an unexplained stillbirth.
- Weight. Being overweight before pregnancy increases your risk.
- Race. For reasons that aren’t clear, women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
Treatments for all types of diabetes
- Healthy eating.
- Physical activity.
Treatments for type 1 and type 2 diabetes
Treatment for type 1 diabetes involves insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump, frequent blood sugar checks, and carbohydrate counting. Treatment of type 2 diabetes primarily involves monitoring of your blood sugar, along with diabetes medications, insulin or both.
- Monitoring your blood sugar. Even with careful management, blood sugar levels can sometimes change unpredictably.
- Insulin. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin therapy to survive. Many people with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes also need insulin therapy.
- Oral or other medications. Sometimes other oral or injected medications are prescribed as well.
- Transplantation. In some people who have type 1 diabetes, a pancreas transplant may be an option.
- Bariatric surgery. Although it is not specifically considered a treatment for type 2 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes who also have a body mass index higher than 35 may benefit from this type of surgery.
Treatment for gestational diabetes
Controlling your blood sugar level is essential to keeping your baby healthy and avoiding complications during delivery. In addition to maintaining a healthy diet and exercising, your treatment plan may include monitoring your blood sugar and, in some cases, using insulin or oral medications.