Diabetes is a condition that develops when your blood sugar level is higher than normal.
Blood sugar, also known as “blood glucose” is your body’s primary source of energy. It comes from the food and drinks that you consume.
Your pancreas produces a hormone called “insulin” that helps absorb the glucose from food to convert it into energy.
There are times when your body does not produce any or sufficient insulin. Sometimes, your body does not use insulin well either.
In both instances, the glucose from food will remain in your bloodstream and will not reach your body’s cells.
Too much glucose in your bloodstream can eventually result in a plethora of health issues. These include the following:
- Foot problems
- Damage to the nerves
- Dental health problems
- Eye problems
- Kidney problems
- Heart illnesses
There is no cure for diabetes. Once you have it, you will have it forever.
However, there are some measures that you can take in order to help regulate your sugar level better by living a healthier and well-adapted lifestyle.
The 3 types of diabetes
Diabetes is separated into three types. They are the following:
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body does not produce insulin at all. It is caused when the pancreas cells responsible for producing insulin are being attacked and destroyed by your own immune system.
Anyone, regardless of age, can be affected by Type 1 diabetes. However, it is most commonly diagnosed in adolescents and children.
If you have Type 1 diabetes, insulin should be taken daily in order to regulate and control the production and level of insulin in your body.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the kind of diabetes you have if your body is unable to use or produce insulin well. This kind of diabetes can be diagnosed in anyone, even children. However, it is most commonly diagnosed in older and middle-aged individuals.
You have higher chances of developing Type 2 diabetes if you are overweight or obese, have a history of diabetes in your family, or if you are 45 and above.
Other factors that come into play are health issues like hypertension, race, and level of physical activity.
In addition, if you had gestational diabetes during your pregnancy, you are more predisposed to developing Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is also the most common kind of diabetes.
There are some women who develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. In most cases, once the pregnancy is over, gestational diabetes would go away on its own.
Although, as mentioned earlier, if you had gestational diabetes during your pregnancy, you have a higher likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.
Causes of diabetes
As discussed earlier, a person can develop Type 1 diabetes when their immune system attacks and damages the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin.
However, the exact cause as to why this happens is yet to be determined. Many scientists and experts believe that it has something to do with genetics.
Some believe it is caused by certain environmental factors like viruses, for example, that could have prompted the disease to develop.
There are a number of studies in place aimed at determining the exact cause of Type 1 diabetes and finding out ways that would help in slowing it down or preventing it.
For Type 2 diabetes, a number of factors contribute to the development of this disease, including the following:
Genetics may play a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes. The individuals and families belonging to the following ethnic or racial groups are more likely to develop this disease:
- Pacific Islanders
- Native Hawaiians
- American Indians
- African Americans
Some genes also make a person more predisposed to becoming overweight or obese, which increases the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes as well.
Resistance to Insulin
Some people have more resistance to insulin. Such individuals are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. As discussed earlier, this kind of diabetes occurs when the body does not process or produce insulin well.
It often starts with insulin resistance, wherein the fat cells, liver, and muscles fail to use insulin well, resulting in the need for more insulin.
The body needs this to better absorb the glucose from food. The pancreas will first respond by producing a higher amount of insulin to cope up with the increased demand.
However, eventually, the pancreas won’t be able to produce sufficient insulin. This would result in an increase in the blood sugar level.
A person has higher chances of developing Type 2 diabetes if overweight, obese, lacks physical activity and/or the diet is unhealthy
First, excess fat in the belly area is linked to blood vessel disease, heart disease, and resistance to insulin.
There are also times when overall excess weight results in insulin resistance, triggering Type 2 diabetes.
As for gestational diabetes, genetics may also play a role.
Women belonging to a family with a history of diabetes have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes when pregnant.
Furthermore, this kind of diabetes most commonly affects Latinas, Hispanics, Asians, American Indians, and African Americans.
This suggests that genetics may really be a factor. Hormonal changes are another factor that contributes to the development of gestational diabetes.
During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones, causing hormonal changes and imbalance. This may lead to insulin resistance.
While the majority of pregnant women can make insulin that is sufficient to overcome insulin resistance, there are still some who cannot.
A pregnant woman develops gestational diabetes when her pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin.
Signs and symptoms of diabetes
The following are the common symptoms of diabetes:
- Sudden, unintended loss of weight
- Sores or wounds that do not heal
- A tingling sensation of numbness in the hands or feet
- Blurred vision
- A feeling of tiredness
- Feeling hungry more quickly and more often
- Feeling thirsty more quickly
- Frequent urination
The signs and symptoms of Type 1 diabetes begin very fast, usually in just a few weeks. As for Type 2 diabetes, the symptoms usually manifest gradually, over a couple of years.
In addition, the symptoms can be so minor that it is possible for the patient to not even notice. Some Type 2 diabetics do not even experience any symptoms at all.
If you believe you have diabetes or if you think you are at risk of developing it, consult a doctor immediately.