What is diabetes?
Diabetes, as medically known as diabetes mellitus, is a common chronic disease of metabolism. In diabetes, your body lost its ability to use or produce hormone insulin properly. Having diabetes means that you have excessed glucose in your blood due to number of reasons. This condition may cause serious problems to your body, including the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.
What types of diabetes do you have?
Diabetes has three main types, which are type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, as known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disorder in which, the body’s immune system attacks the pancreas instead of outsiders. This will cause the lack of insulin and increase blood glucose.
If you have type 1 diabetes, you may develop symptoms quickly and at younger age, usually during childhood or adolescence.
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unclear. Authorities suspect that type 1 diabetes may be a result of a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors. However, you may have higher risk for type 1 diabetes if the followings exist:
- A parent or sibling has type 1 diabetes.
- Circumstances such as exposure to a viral illness.
- The presence of diabetes autoantibodies.
- Vitamin D deficiency, early exposure to cow’s milk or cow’s milk formula, and exposure to cereals before the age of 4 months. Although these do not cause directly type 1 diabetes, they still have some role of the risk.
- Countries, such as Finland and Sweden, have higher rates of type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, as known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes, is the most common type of diabetes, the patient of which is 90% to 95% of total diagnosed diabetes patients. It most often occurs in adulthood, but because of high obesity rates, teens and young adults are now being diagnosed with this disease. You may have type 2 diabetes but do not know it.
In type 2 diabetes, your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, and your pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance. Instead of moving into your cells where it has needed for energy, sugar builds up in your bloodstream.
Exactly why this happens is uncertain, although doctors believe that genetic and environmental factors play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Being overweight is the main trigger to the development of type 2 diabetes, but not everyone with type 2 is overweight.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only occurs in pregnant women. This disease may cause problems to both mothers and her babies if left untreated. However, gestational diabetes usually disappears after laboring.
Other types of diabetes are much less common and results of genetic syndrome, surgery, medicines, malnutrition, infections and other illnesses.
Diabetes insipidus, despite its similar name to the above types, is a different condition, caused by the inability of the kidneys to conserve water. This condition is rare and can be treated.
Why do I have diabetes?
To know the reason of your disease, you should acknowledge how your body process glucose.
Glucose is essential to your body as a source of energy for the cells of your muscles and tissues, especially your brain. Glucose comes from food you eat and the reserve from your liver, glycogen. In case you have not eaten well and your blood glucose is too low, your liver will break down glycogen to glucose and balance your blood sugar level. The blood flow absorbs glucose and deliver it to your body cells. However, the cells cannot use this “fuel” directly without the presence of hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas. The insulin circulation enables glucose to enter your cells, lowering the glucose level in your blood flow. Then, because your blood glucose has dropped, pancreas also reduce insulin production.
Any abnormality appears to this metabolism can make glucose unable to enter the cells and provide energy. The result is that the glucose remains in your blood. This imbalance accumulates through times and lead to the significantly high level of your blood sugar, called hyperglycemia.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
The main symptoms of diabetes include:
- Extremely thirsty feeling, called polydipsia;
- Increased urination sometimes as often as every hour, called polyuria;
- Unexplained weight loss;
- Fatigue or tiredness.
You may or may not have other symptoms, which are:
- Nausea or vomiting;
- Blurred vision;
- Frequent vaginal infections in women;
- Yeast infections or thrush;
- Dry mouth;
- Slow-healing sores or cuts;
- Itching skin, especially in the groin or vaginal area.
When should I see a doctor?
You should go to the hospital for checking up or see a doctor if you notice any symptoms of diabetes mentioned above.
In addition, you need to call for emergency if you:
- Feel nauseates and weak;
- Feel excessively thirsty or frequently urinate along with abdominal pain;
- Breathe more rapidly.
What is the treatment for diabetes?
For type 1 and type 2, you will need a special diet to control blood sugar. You should eat snacks at the same time every day.
You should check your blood sugar levels often by a glucometer and watch for signs that the blood sugar level is too low or too high. The doctor will explain insulin injection so you can inject yourself at home, usually two or three times daily.
Your doctor will suggest exercises to help control your blood sugar levels.
You also need to have regular foot care and eye checkups to prevent complications.
Although type 1 diabetes cannot be cured, type 2 diabetes may be reserved with lifestyle changes.
Basics About Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html. Accessed July 09, 2015
Causes of Diabetes. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/causes-diabetes/Pages/index.aspx. Accessed July 09, 2015
Diabetes. U.S. National Library of Medicine. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001214.htm. Accessed July 09, 2015
Review Date: May 18, 2016 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019