What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that affects the body’s endocrine system. With diabetes, your pancreas either stops or produces too little insulin, a hormone needed by your body to use the glucose (sugar) in your blood effectively for energy. Diabetes can also occur when the cells in your body become resistant to your pancreas’ insulin. Without sufficient insulin, your blood glucose levels will escalate, giving rise to long-term health problems if left untreated.
Types of Diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. A third type called Gestational diabetes can sometimes develop in pregnant women. Caused differently, each type of diabetes requires a different treatment. The symptoms however are very similar regardless of type. These include:
- Constantly feeling dehydrated and excessively thirsty
- Needing to make frequent visits to the toilet
- Sudden weight loss
- Itching in the genital area or frequent episodes of thrush
- Very slow or delayed healing on cuts and wounds
- Recurrent infections, such as boils
Types 1 Diabetes
- Occurs when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are damaged.
- Usually affects younger people, although it can occur at any age and develop very quickly over a short span of time.
- Sudden weight loss
- Condition must be controlled with insulin injections, which are balanced against your blood glucose levels.
Types 2 Diabetes
- Occurs when your body cells are resistant to insulin and/or if your pancreas is not producing enough insulin.
- Can be easily missed as it develops slowly and gradually over a long period of time.
- Usually occurs among those 45 years of age and older, but is increasingly being seen in young adults and even in children. Risks are also higher among those who are overweight or obese, with high blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol levels, and lead a fairly inactive lifestyle.
- Generally runs in families and particularly prevalent among certain ethnic groups.
- Can sometimes be treated and controlled with diet and exercise.
- Develops in some women late into their pregnancy. Usually disappears after the baby is born, but patients have a 20% to 50% chance of developing Type 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years. This risk can be reduced by maintaining a healthy body weight and adopting an active lifestyle.
- Caused by pregnancy hormones or insulin shortage. Patients may not experience any symptoms.
- More prevalent in some ethnic groups and among women with a family history of diabetes.
Important Notice: Information provided is for general background purposes and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment by a trained professional. You should always consult your physician about any health care questions you may have, especially before trying a new medication, diet, fitness program, or approach to health care issues.
Experts say most people diagnosed with diabetes should try to keep their blood glucose level as close as possible to the level of someone who doesn’t have diabetes. The closer to normal your blood glucose is, the lower your chances are of developing serious health problems.
Your health care team will help you learn how to reach your target blood glucose range. Your main health care providers are your doctor, nurse, diabetes educator, and dietitian.