Metabolic Health

An Overview of Diabetes Mellitus

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Today’s common sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits are already giving rise to various diseases. But one chronic and long-lasting disease it can indirectly contribute to is a type of diabetes that eventually makes you vulnerable to different severe health disorders. When it comes to the notion of what diabetes is, what are its causes, symptoms, etc., some people have a misconception that there is only one type of diabetes. In reality, diabetes can be of various kinds, and its causes, symptoms, and preventive measures can vary. If you’re susceptible to diabetes, this guide will clear all your doubts. So read till the end.   

What is Diabetes?

For the uninitiated, it is a chronic health condition wherein your body doesn’t convert food into energy the way it should. Giving you a little background of how the process works will provide you with better clarity on what diabetes is. When you consume food, it gets broken down into sugar (glucose) and released into the bloodstream. It then triggers the pancreas to release insulin so the body cells can absorb sugar (glucose) to be used as energy.

But if you have diabetes, your body fails to generate enough insulin or fails to use the insulin the way it should.  And when it happens, sugar (glucose) starts building up in your bloodstream, which eventually gives rise to diabetes. 

Types of Diabetes

Now that you’re aware of what diabetes is, it’s time you learn about the different types of diabetes. There are generally four types of diabetes that you should learn about. We’ve shared everything you should know about them below. 

1. Type 1 Diabetes

This type of diabetes is known to occur due to an autoimmune reaction, wherein the body accidentally attacks itself, destroying the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Around 5%-10% of people who have diabetes are said to have type 1 diabetes, and they have to depend heavily on insulin therapy to survive. The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, irritability, extreme hunger, and unintended weight loss. 

Though there is no proven cure to treat patients having type 1 diabetes, researchers are working hard to develop a drug. However, it is believed that developing healthy living habits can improve the condition. 

2. Type 2 Diabetes

Of all the available types of diabetes, the most common is type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes develops over the years and is mostly diagnosed in adults. It occurs when either your body stops producing insulin or your body cells stop reacting normally to it. Many symptoms of type 2 diabetes are very much similar to that of type 1 diabetes; however, some additional symptoms include slow-healing sores, frequent infections, numbness or tingling sensation in hands and feet, and areas developing darkened patches.

If you’ve been very recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you should start leading a healthy lifestyle for improved results. Eating healthy, getting active, losing weight, and avoiding inactivity for longer periods are some of the ways you can prevent or reduce type 2 diabetes.  

3. Gestational Diabetes

It is a condition wherein the pregnant woman experiences an abnormally high glucose level in the bloodstream during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes can be caused due to insulin resistance developed in the body. Such a condition generally dissolves after giving birth. If you’re pregnant, you should look out for the following symptoms to know whether you’ve developed gestational diabetes or not: frequent urination, yeast infections, blurred vision, fatigue, increased thirst, weight loss with increased appetite, nausea, and vomiting.  

If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you can improve the condition by eating healthy, exercising daily, and taking medications as suggested by your physician.  

4. Prediabetes

Prediabetes is the stage before type 2 diabetes, i.e., your body has a higher level of sugar (glucose) than normal, but not enough to be termed as type 2 diabetes. The general prediabetes symptoms include increased thirst, blurred vision, fatigue, frequent (and increased) urination, and excessive hunger. If you notice these signs in your body, you should consult a doctor. 

Those diagnosed with prediabetes can reduce the risk and improve their condition by eating healthy, not smoking, controlling blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, and being active in everyday life. 

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Diabetes Risk Factors

Now that you’re aware how diabetes is caused, its types, and symptoms, it’s time you learn their associated risk factors. Although the factors that increase the risk of diabetes depend on the type of diabetes you develop, there are generally the following common risks:

  • Having a family history of any type of diabetes
  • Injury to the pancreas
  • Being obese
  • Having low HDL cholesterol and high triglyceride level
  • Being a smoker
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Being over 25 years of age
  • Being physically inactive
  • Belonging to African-American, Native American, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, or Native American race

As mentioned earlier, the risk factors will depend on the type of diabetes you develop, so a person will rarely be susceptible to all the aforesaid risk factors. 

Diabetes Complications

Complications of diabetes are another point of discussion you should not overlook. If the glucose (sugar) levels remain high in your bloodstream for long, it can severely damage your body’s tissues and organs. Some of the complications you can be subjected to because of diabetes include:

  • Cataracts, glaucoma, and severe eye damage leading to blindness
  • Cardiovascular issues, including high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis, chest pain, and more
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Kidney damage leading to kidney failure
  • Dental problems
  • Skin infections
  • Foot damage, including nerve damage, poor healing of cuts, and poor blood flow
  • Hearing loss
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Nerve damage causing a tingling sensation that starts from toes and fingers and later spreads

Also Read about the type 3 diabetes

Bottomline

Diabetes is a chronic, long-term health disorder that comes along with various health concerns. Not only does it require people to curb their sweet eating habits, it also makes people alter their regular course of activities for improved condition. To make people aware and safe from diabetes, we’ve listed above everything from what is diabetes to the causes of diabetes, and much more for your reference. If you find any symptoms or signs mentioned above in your body, you should immediately consult a doctor and adopt the preventive measures suggested in the article. Read more about the difference between type 1 and 2 diabetes.

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