Diabetes: All you need to Know

HealthAid Bloggers
Blogger, Reporter, Writer
Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Diabetes is a chronic health condition where blood sugar(glucose) levels are too high. Typically, when you eat food, your body breaks it down to glucose(sugar) and releases it into your bloodstream. So when blood sugar levels are up, it acts as a signal to the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get to the body cells for use as energy.

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So, diabetes happens when the pancreas doesn't make enough insulin to take up the sugar in the blood or when the cells stop responding to insulin leading to excess blood sugar in your bloodstream. With time, this can lead to other serious conditions like heart diseases, kidney diseases, and vision problems.

Types of Diabetes

The onset of diabetes is caused by different factors leading to different types of diabetes. They are:

Type 1 Diabetes

Another name for type 1 diabetes is juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes because it’s predominant in children and teenagers, and young adults. In this case, the body doesn’t make insulin as the immune system attacks and destroys pancreatic cells that produce the hormone. Most people who suffer from type 1 diabetes have to take insulin every day to survive. It has no cure.  

Type 2 Diabetes

Another name for type 2 diabetes is non-insulin dependent or adult-onset diabetes. About 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2. It is not diagnosed early and may take many years before being diagnosed in adults and the elderly. In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t make good use of the insulin produced and so can’t maintain normal blood sugar levels. 

You can manage Type 2 diabetes by implementing lifestyle changes like eating healthy food, maintaining an active lifestyle, and losing weight. However, most people may need oral drugs or insulin to regulate blood glucose levels.

Gestational Diabetes

This is the presence of consistently high blood sugar levels in a pregnant woman resulting in complications during the pregnancy and delivery. Gestational diabetes often goes away immediately after the child is born. However, women who have gestational diabetes may develop type 2 diabetes later in life. 

Symptoms of Diabetes

Common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Feelings of tired, general weakness
  • Frequent unexplained infections
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet

In men, diabetes may lead to erectile dysfunction, decreased sex drive, and muscle strength. In women, it may cause dry and itchy skin and frequent urinary tract infections or yeast infections.

Risk factors for diabetes

You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if:

  • You’re 45 years and older
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • You’re overweight or obese
  • You have high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • You had gestational diabetes while pregnant

Complications of Diabetes

If you have consistently high blood sugar levels, it may harm your body organs and tissues. Some of the complications of diabetes are cardiovascular issues like coronary artery disease, neuropathy which causes numbness of toes and fingers, eye damage, skin infections, kidney damage, hearing loss, etc. 

In gestational diabetes, the mother may have preeclampsia(high blood pressure and excess protein in urine with swelling of feet), and the risk of developing gestational diabetes in future pregnancies. The newborn may have low blood sugar, and higher than normal birth weight.

The Bottom Line

To prevent type 2 diabetes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is very important. For early diagnosis and treatment and to prevent further complications, periodic blood sugar level checking is advised.

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