Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Diabetes is a condition where people don’t produce enough insulin to meet their body’s needs and/or their cells don’t respond properly to insulin. Diabetes can lead to a buildup of sugars in the blood, which can increase the risk of dangerous complications, including stroke and heart disease.
- When the pancreas does not produce any insulin.
- When the pancreas produces very little insulin.
- When the body does not respond appropriately to insulin, a condition called “insulin resistance.”
- Diabetes can also result from other hormonal disturbances.
- Certain medications may worsen diabetes control, or “unmask” latent diabetes.
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes: Also known as juvenile diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic condition associated with abnormally high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. People with type I diabetes are insulin-dependent, which means they must take artificial insulin daily to stay alive.
Type 2 Diabetes: In type 2 diabetes, there also is a steady decline of beta cells that adds to the process of elevated blood sugars. This is the most common type of diabetes. It affects the way the body uses insulin. While the body still makes insulin, unlike in type I.
Gestational Diabetes: During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to sustain your pregnancy. These hormones make your cells more resistant to insulin. Gestational diabetes does not occur in all women and usually resolves after giving birth.
Prediabetes is a term used to describe blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Many people with prediabetes go on to develop diabetes.
Symptoms of Diabetes: Diabetes symptoms vary depending on how much your blood sugar is elevated.
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes includes:
- Increased thirst.
- Increased hunger (especially after eating).
- Dry mouth.
- Frequent urination.
- Unexplained weight loss (even though you are eating and feel hungry).
- Fatigue (weak, tired feeling).
- Blurred vision.
- Labored, heavy breathing (Kussmaul respirations).
- Loss of consciousness (rare).
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes may include:
- Slow-healing sores or cuts.
- Itching of the skin (usually in the vaginal or groin area).
- Yeast infections.
- Recent weight gain.
- Numbness or tingling of the hands and feet.
- Impotence or erectile dysfunction.
Risk Factors for Diabetes:
- Being obese or overweight
- High blood pressure
- Elevated levels of triglycerides and low levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL)
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Family history
- Increasing age
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Impaired glucose tolerance
- Insulin resistance
- Gestational diabetes during a pregnancy
- Ethnic background
Treatment and Prevention
- Currently, type 1 diabetes is not preventable. However, studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented by adopting lifestyle changes that include moderate weight loss through eating a healthy diet and regularly exercising. Diabetes is a chronic condition, and it can last an entire lifetime. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin continuously to survive. The only way to cure this disease is to have a pancreas or islet cell transplant, but these operations are only recommended in a small set of circumstances.
- Treatment of type 2 diabetes begins with lifestyle changes, particularly in your diet and exercise. It is also a good idea to speak with your doctor before beginning an exercise program that is more vigorous than walking to determine how much and what kind of exercise is appropriate. Speak to your doctor and diabetes educator about an appropriate diet. You may be referred to a dietitian. If lifestyle changes don’t put blood glucose levels in the target range, medications may be required. Medications include anti diabetes pills or injections, insulin injections, or a combination of these.
Managing Diabetes: At the present time, diabetes can’t be cured, but it can be treated and controlled.
- Balancing food intake with medication and activity.
- Maintain your blood cholesterol and triglyceride (lipid) levels as near their normal ranges as possible by decreasing the total amount of fat.
- Control your blood pressure. Your blood pressure should not go over 130/80.
- Try to slow or possibly prevent the development of diabetes-related health problems.
- Regularly Excersing
- Taking medicine, if prescribed, and closely following the guidelines when to take it.
- Appointments with your health care providers and having laboratory tests as ordered by your doctor.