Diabetes refers to a group of diseases that affect the body’s use of blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is vital to your health because it is an important source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and tissues. It is also the main source of energy for your brain.
The underlying cause of diabetes varies by type. However, no matter what type of diabetes you have, it may cause too much sugar in your blood. Too much sugar in the blood can cause serious health problems.
Chronic diabetes includes type 1 diabetes and types 2 diabetes. Potentially reversible diabetic diseases include prediabetes and gestational diabetes. Pre-diabetes occurs when your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not enough to be classified as diabetes. Unless proper measures are taken to prevent progression, pre-diabetes is usually a precursor to diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy but may resolve after the baby is delivered.
Diabetes symptoms vary depending on how much blood sugar rises. Some people, especially those with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, may sometimes have no symptoms. In type 1 diabetes symptoms tend to onset quickly and become more severe.
Some signs and diabetes symptoms of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes include:
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Ketones in the urine (when insulin is insufficient, ketones are by-products of muscle and fat breakdown)
- Blurred vision
- Chronic sores
Frequent infections, such as gum or skin infections and vaginal infections
Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, although it usually appears in childhood or adolescence. Type 2 diabetes is the more common type and can develop at any age, although it is more common in people over 40.
When to see the doctor
- If you suspect that you or your child may have diabetes. If you notice any possible diabetes symptoms, please contact your doctor. The sooner the disease is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can be started.
- If you have been diagnosed with diabetes. After receiving the diagnosis, you need to have close medical follow-up until the blood sugar level stabilizes.
To understand diabetes, one must first understand the normal way glucose is processed in the body.
How insulin works
Insulin is a hormone that comes from glands located behind and under the stomach (pancreas).
- The pancreas secretes insulin into the blood.
- The insulin cycle allows sugar to enter your cells.
- Insulin can reduce the sugar in the blood.
- As the blood sugar level drops, the secretion of insulin in the pancreas also drops.
The role of glucose
Glucose is a sugar that is a source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and other tissues.
- There are two main sources of glucose: food and liver.
- Sugar is absorbed into the blood and enters the cells with the help of insulin.
- Your liver stores and produces glucose.
- When your glucose level is low, for example, if you have not eaten for a while, the liver will break down
- stored glycogen into glucose to keep your glucose level within the normal range.
Causes of type 1 diabetes
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unclear. As we all know, your immune system (which usually fights against harmful bacteria or viruses) attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This leaves you almost without insulin. Not only is sugar not transported into your cells, but it accumulates in your blood.
Although it is not clear what these factors are, it is believed that Type 1 is caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Weight is not considered a factor in type 1 diabetes.
Causes of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes
In prediabetes (which can lead to type 2 diabetes) and type 2 diabetes symptoms, your cells develop resistance to the action of insulin, and your pancreas cannot make enough insulin to overcome this resistance. Sugar will not accumulate in cells that need energy, but in the blood.
Although it is believed that genetic and environmental factors also play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes, the exact cause is uncertain. Being overweight is closely related to the occurrence of type 2 diabetes, but not everyone is overweight.
Causes of gestational diabetes
During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to maintain pregnancy. These hormones make your cells more resistant to insulin.
Normally, your pancreas will overcome this resistance by producing enough extra insulin. But sometimes your pancreas cannot keep up. When this happens, there is too little opportunity for glucose to enter your cells, and too much retention in your blood, leading to gestational diabetes.
The risk factors for diabetes depend on the type of diabetes.
Risk factors for type 1 diabetes
Although the exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, factors that may indicate an increased risk include:
- family history. If parents or siblings have type 1 diabetes, the risk increases.
- environmental factor. Conditions such as exposure to viral diseases may play a role in type 1 diabetes.
- The presence of destructive immune system cells (autoantibodies). Sometimes family members of patients with type 1 diabetes are tested for the presence of diabetes autoantibodies. If you have these autoantibodies, your risk of developing type 1 diabetes will increase. But not everyone with these autoantibodies will develop diabetes.
- geography. Certain countries (such as Finland and Sweden) have a higher incidence of type 1 diabetes.
Risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes
Researchers do not fully understand why some people develop prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, while others do not. Obviously, certain factors increase risk, including:
The more adipose tissue you have, the more resistant your cells are to insulin.
The less active you are, the greater the risk. Physical exercise can help you control your weight, consume glucose for energy, and make your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- family history.
If parents or siblings have type 2 diabetes, the risk increases.
- Race or ethnicity.
Although the reason is not clear, certain people (including blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, and Asian Americans) are at higher risk.
With age, the risk increases. This may be because as you age, you tend to reduce exercise, lose muscle mass, and gain weight. However, type 2 diabetes is also increasing among children, adolescents, and young adults.
- Gestational diabetes.
If you develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, your risk of developing diabetes, and type 2 diabetes will increase. If your baby weighs more than 9 pounds (4 kg), you are also at risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
For women, polycystic ovary syndrome (a common disease characterized by irregular menstruation, excessive hair growth, and obesity) increases the risk of diabetes.
Blood pressure exceeding 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
If your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels are low, or your “good” cholesterol levels are high, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is higher. Triglycerides are another type of fat carried in the blood. People with high triglyceride levels have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Your doctor can let you know your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes
Pregnant women can develop gestational diabetes. Some women face greater risks than others. Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:
Women over 25 years of age have an increased risk of disease.
- Family or personal history.
If you have prediabetes (a precursor to type 2 diabetes) or a relative (such as a parent or sibling) has type 2 diabetes, the risk is increased. If you had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy, gave birth to a large baby, or died of an unexplained stillbirth, you are also at greater risk.
Being overweight before pregnancy increases your risk.
- Race or ethnicity.
For unclear reasons, black, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian American women are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
The long-term complications of diabetes symptoms develop gradually. The longer you have diabetes-the less your blood sugar is controlled higher the risk of complications. Ultimately, complications of diabetes can be disabling or even life-threatening. Possible complications include:
Diabetes significantly increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke, and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis). If you have diabetes, you are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
Excess sugar can damage the walls of tiny blood vessels (capillaries) and nourish your nerves, especially those in your legs. This may cause tingling, numbness, burning, or pain, usually starting at the tip of the toe or finger, and then gradually spread upward.
If left untreated, the affected limb may lose all feeling. Nerve damage related to digestion can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation problems. For men, it may cause erectile dysfunction.
The kidney contains millions of clusters of small blood vessels (glomeruli) that filter waste from the blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtration system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina (diabetic retinopathy) and may cause blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.
Damage to the nerves of the feet or poor blood flow in the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. If left untreated, cuts and blisters can develop into serious infections, usually leading to poor cures. These infections may eventually require amputated toes, feet, or legs.
Diabetes may make you more prone to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections.
Hearing-impaired. Hearing problems are more common in people with diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes symptoms may increase the risk of dementia (such as Alzheimer’s disease). The worse your blood sugar control, the greater the risk seems. Although there are theories about how these diseases are related, they have not been proven.
Depressive Diabetes symptoms are common in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Depression can affect the treatment of diabetes.
Complications of gestational diabetes
Most women with gestational diabetes symptoms can give birth to healthy babies. However, untreated or uncontrollable blood sugar levels can cause trouble for you and your baby.
Gestational diabetes symptoms can cause complications in your baby, including:
The excess glucose will pass through the placenta, triggering the baby’s pancreas to produce extra insulin. This may cause your baby to be too large (large breasts). Very large babies are more likely to require a C-section.
Sometimes, babies of mothers with gestational diabetes symptoms develop hypoglycemia (hypoglycemia) shortly after birth because of their own high insulin production. Feeding in time, and sometimes intravenous glucose solution can restore the baby’s blood sugar level to normal.
- Type 2 diabetes in later life.
Babies of mothers with gestational diabetes symptoms are at higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.
Untreated gestational diabetes can cause babies to die before or shortly after birth.
Complications of the mother may also be the result of gestational diabetes symptoms, including:
This condition is characterized by high blood pressure, excessive protein in the urine, and swelling of the legs and feet. Pre-eclampsia can cause serious and even life-threatening complications for mothers and babies.
Once you have gestational diabetes symptoms in one pregnancy, you are more likely to have it again in the next pregnancy. As you get older, you are also more likely to develop diabetes
(usually, type 2 diabetes).
Pre-diabetes symptoms may develop into type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes symptoms cannot be prevented. However, the same healthy lifestyle can be chosen to treat pre-diabetes symptoms, type 2 diabetes symptoms, and gestational diabetes, and it can also help prevent diabetes:
- Eat healthy foods. Choose foods that are low in fat and calories and high in fiber. Focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Strive for diversity and prevent boredom.
- Do more physical exercise. For most of the week, do about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, or at least 150 minutes a week.
- Lose excess pounds. If you are overweight, even a 7% weight loss (for example, if you weigh 200 pounds (90.7 kg), you lose 14 pounds (6.4 kg)) can reduce your risk of diabetes. However, do not try to lose weight during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about how much healthy weight you can gain during pregnancy. To keep your weight within a healthy range, please concentrate on changing your diet and exercise habits permanently. Motivate yourself by remembering the benefits of weight loss, for example, heart health, energetic energy, and improved self-esteem.
Sometimes medicine is also an option. Oral diabetes medications (such as metformin (Glumetza, Fortamet, etc.) can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes symptoms-but choosing a healthy lifestyle is still crucial. Check your blood sugar at least once a year to make sure you are not suffering from type 2 diabetes.