What is Diabetes?

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes also called diabetes mellitus is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that helps the body convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy.

When someone has diabetes, their blood sugar levels are too high because their body can’t use or make enough insulin.

Diabetes can cause many health problems if it is not treated.

In this blog post, we will discuss what diabetes is, the different types of diabetes, and how it is treated.

Let’s get started!

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects the way your body converts sugar (glucose) into energy.

Glucose is a basic fuel source for our bodies, and it comes from the food we eat.

The pancreas produces insulin to help glucose get into your cells so they can produce energy.

In diabetes, either the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the cells ignore the insulin.

As a result, glucose is unable to enter your cells and build up in your bloodstream instead.

If left untreated, over time, high blood sugar levels can seriously damage many parts of your body, including your heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.

What is Diabetes?

Types of Diabetes

There are three main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means the body’s immune system attacks and destroys normal body tissue.

This causes diabetes by destroying cells in the pancreas that make insulin.

It is also called juvenile diabetes because it usually develops in childhood or adolescence but can develop at any age.

The main symptoms of type I diabetes are high blood sugar levels, increased thirst and urination, weight loss, and fatigue.

Type I diabetes must be treated with insulin injections or an insulin pump to keep blood sugar levels under control.

Type 2 Diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still makes some insulin, but the body’s cells do not use it as well as they should.

This is called insulin resistance.

In the early stages of type 2 diabetes, people often have no symptoms.

But over time, if blood sugar levels are not managed properly, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations.

Type 2 diabetes is treated with a combination of lifestyle changes and medication.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy in some women who did not have diabetes before they became pregnant.

It usually goes away after the baby is born, but about half of all women who have gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes in the future.

If you have gestational diabetes, you will need to monitor your blood sugar levels and take medication if necessary to manage it throughout your pregnancy.

Prediabetes

Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

People with prediabetes are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

The best way to prevent these conditions is to make lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and exercise.

What is the main cause of diabetes?

The main cause of diabetes is not known, but there are many things that may increase your risk, including:

Family history

If you have a parent or sibling with type I or type 2 diabetes, you are more likely to develop the condition yourself.

Race and ethnicity

People who belong to certain racial and ethnic groups (such as African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics) are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

Overweight

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Age

People over the age of 45 years old have a greater chance of getting type 2 diabetes.

Complications of Pregnancy

Women who have had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby weighing over nine pounds are at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Sedentary lifestyle

Too little activity can cause your cells to become resistant to insulin and increase your risk of type II diabetes.

In other words, lack of physical activity is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Other conditions

Some diseases increase the chances that you will develop diabetes, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome, and acromegaly.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

The most common symptoms of diabetes are:

  1. Urinating often: This is because the body tries to get rid of the extra sugar by flushing it out in the urine.
  2. Feeling very thirsty: Again, this is because the body tries to get rid of the extra sugar by drinking lots of fluids.
  3. Feeling very tired: Diabetes can make you feel very tired, especially if your blood sugar levels are high for a long time.
  4. Having blurry vision: This happens because diabetes can damage the tiny blood vessels in the eyes.
  5. Losing weight even though you are not trying to: This is because the body tries to get rid of the extra sugar by burning fat and muscle.
  6. Having sores that do not heal: Diabetes can make it difficult for wounds to heal properly.
  7. Have numb or tingling hands or feet: This happens because diabetes can damage the nerves.

If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.

They will do a blood test to see if you have diabetes.

Symptoms in men

In men, some of the early symptoms of diabetes can include:

  • Having trouble getting an erection
  • Experiencing a decrease in sex drive
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Having a dry, itchy scalp
  • Poor muscle strength

Symptoms in women

In women, some of the early symptoms of diabetes can include:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Having vaginal and oral yeast infections or vaginal thrush that keep coming back
  • Itching or burning of the vulva, which is the skin around your vagina and urethra
  • Experiencing skin problems, such as dry, itchy skin

How is diabetes treated?

Doctors treat diabetes with a combination of lifestyle changes, oral medications, and insulin therapy.

Type 1 diabetes treatment

People with type I diabetes usually use insulin injections to control their blood sugar.

Type 2 diabetes treatment

People with type 2 diabetes can often control their blood sugar levels by making healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a normal weight.

If these changes are not enough, your doctor may prescribe oral medications to help control blood sugar levels.

Some of the oral medications used to treat type 2 diabetes include:

  • Metformin (Glucophage)
  • Sulfonylureas, such as glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase) and glimepiride (Amaryl)
  • Meglitinides, such as repaglinide (Prandin) and nateglinide (Starlix)
  • Thiazolidinediones, such as pioglitazone (Actos) and rosiglitazone (Avandia)
  • Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, such as acarbose (Precose) and miglitol (Glyset)
  • DPP-IV inhibitors, such as saxagliptin (Onglyza) and sitagliptin (Januvia)
  • SGLT-II inhibitors, such as canagliflozin (Invokana) and dapagliflozin (Farxiga)
  • GLP-I analogues, such as exenatide (Byetta), liraglutide (Victoza), albiglutide (Tanzeum) and dulaglutide (Trulicity)
  • Bile acid sequestrants, such as colesevelam (Welchol)

Gestational diabetes treatment

Gestational diabetes usually goes away after you have your baby.

To make sure that your blood sugar level is normal, your doctor will tell you to:

  • Check your blood sugar level at home with a meter
  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Get regular exercise

Take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor

If you have gestational diabetes, it is important to keep track of your blood sugar level.

If your blood sugar level is too high, it can lead to complications for you and your baby.

In some cases, during pregnancy, doctors often prescribe insulin injections to control blood sugar levels.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the percentage of women who will require insulin injections to lower their blood sugar ranges from 10 to 20 percent.

Can diabetes be prevented?

Yes, you can prevent diabetes.

You can help prevent type 2 diabetes by making healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.

Type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, cannot be prevented.

If you have prediabetes, in some cases, making these lifestyle changes can help prevent your blood sugar from becoming too high and developing into type 2 diabetes.

Can you live a happy life with diabetes?

Yes, you can live a happy life with diabetes.

Most people with diabetes can enjoy a happy, healthy life.

But taking care of yourself and learning how to manage your condition is very important.

You will need to:

  • Check your blood sugar level at home with a meter
  • Follow a healthy diet, and eat small meals several times during the day
  • Get regular exercise
  • Take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor

If you have diabetes, don’t let it stop you from living the life you want.

You can still do the things you enjoy, as long as you take care of yourself and manage your condition.

What is a good blood sugar level for type 2 diabetes?

Generally, a good blood sugar level for type 2 diabetes is below 100 mg/dL when fasting and below 130 mg/dL after a meal.

What is a good blood sugar level for type I diabetes?

A good blood sugar level for type I diabetes is 80 to 130 mg/dL when fasting and less than 180 mg/dL after a meal.

What is the difference between type I and type 2 diabetes?

The biggest difference between type I and type 2 diabetes is that people with type I diabetes cannot produce insulin, while people with type 2 diabetes can still produce insulin but don’t use it effectively.

People with type I diabetes require insulin injections to control blood sugar levels, while people with type 2 diabetes may only need to make lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy and exercising.

Type I diabetes is usually diagnosed in children or young adults, while type 2 diabetes is most commonly diagnosed in people over.

What are some common complications of diabetes?

Complications that can develop in both types I and 2 include:

  • Kidney disease (nephropathy)
  • Nerve damage or nerve pain (neuropathy)
  • Eye problems, including blindness (retinopathy)
  • Diseases of the blood vessels, including heart disease and stroke
  • Skin infections
  • Foot problems, including ulcers and gangrene, which can lead to amputation

The takeaway

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the way your body regulates blood sugar levels.

There is no cure for diabetes, but you can live a happy, healthy life if you take care of yourself and manage your condition.

The most important thing you can do to prevent or manage diabetes is to eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise.

Read more: Foods To Curb Diabetes and Lower Blood Sugar