What is diabetes?

Diabetes is one of the most frequently met diseases people all around the world share. Fortunately, today, managing diabetes with insulin is much easier than it used to be, given the variety of medications to control blood sugars.

But what exactly is diabetes? How many types are there? How can diabetes be diagnosed? Continue reading to find out!

What Does Having Diabetes Mellitus Mean?

Every person experiences a blood glucose spike after having a meal. Normally, these spikes are easily managed, as released insulin helps glucose to convert itself into energy and to be absorbed by body cells. However, if a person has diabetes, blood sugar won’t be converted and will remain in the vessels, causing diabetes.

Diabetes affects the overall health of a person. When left untreated, high blood glucose levels lead to such complications as blurred vision, digestive and kidney diseases (including kidney failure), poor blood flow due to problems with blood vessels, and others.

How Many Types of Diabetes Are There?

Currently, there are 3 major types of diabetes distinguished by specialists;

  • Type 1;
  • Type 2;
  • Gestational.

There are other subtypes of this condition that can’t be fully associated with either of the 3 major types, such as neonatal diabetes, latent autoimmune diabetes of the adults (LADA), maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY), and others. They, however, are extremely uncommon and rarely diagnosed.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is also being called “insulin-dependent” and “juvenile” diabetes. Having it means that the pancreas’ insulin-producing cells are unable to release enough insulin to keep the blood sugar level within the normal range. It happens because a patient’s immune system attacks healthy cells, which makes diabetes an autoimmune disorder.

Insulin-dependent diabetes requires insulin therapy. Unlike type 2, type 1 diabetes rarely occurs in adults.

Type 2 diabetes

If a person has type 2 diabetes, it means that their body developed insulin resistance. The pancreas produces enough of the hormone but the body’s cells don’t react to it, leaving too much glucose to mess with the vessels and cause hyperglycemia.

Type 2 was considered a metabolic disorder but recent studies show that it might be of an autoimmune origin.

Type 2 diabetes is rarely diagnosed in kids. Sometimes, it can occur in young adults but more frequently in people over 45 years old. It can be treated by eating healthy foods, living an active life, and getting insulin injections, or taking insulin sensitizers.

Gestational Diabetes

Also referred to as type 3, gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women in the third trimester (24-28 weeks) of gestation because the placenta produces hormones that affect insulin’s efficiency negatively.

Generally, the disease control methods include sticking to a healthy lifestyle. Gestational diabetes often retreats after delivery. Still, some women have their gestational diabetes transformed into type 2 diabetes after giving birth.

Diabetes Symptoms

the symptoms don’t provide enough information to get diabetes diagnosed, as they can be of a different origin or even psychosomatic. Nevertheless, their regular occurrence means that it’s time to visit a healthcare provider:

  • Frequent urination;
  • Constant thirst and/or hunger;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Losing weight;
  • Tingling limbs, and others.

In the case of type 1 diabetes, symptoms become intense very quickly if not overnight, while type 2 diabetes, as well as gestational one, can stay silent for a long time.

Diabetes Risk Factors

Some people are predisposed to the condition and are at a higher risk of having diabetes later in life, as well as at a young age. Some of the factors are:

  • Family history;
  • Being overweight;
  • Unhealthy diet;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Frequently having low blood sugar (mostly for type 1 diabetes);
  • Being over the age of 45 (for type 2 diabetes);
  • Being pregnant;
  • Inactive lifestyle, and others.

If you have a predisposition to developing diabetes and experience some of its symptoms, consult your medical provider.

How to Know if I Have High Blood Sugar Levels?

The greater your risk of having diabetes, the more important it is to regularly get blood sugar tested. There are several methods to do it:

  • Oral glucose tolerance test;
  • Glucose screening test;
  • HbA1c test;
  • Glucose challenge test;
  • Fasting blood glucose level test;
  • Random blood sugar test, and some others.

Some of these methods are more general, some of them are designed to diagnose specific types of diabetes. If you feel that there’s an increased risk for you to get diagnosed, ask your healthcare provider, which of these tests will be the most informative for them.

In Conclusion

Diabetes mellitus occurs when a person develops insulin resistance or their pancreas can’t produce insulin at full capacity to address high blood sugar levels.

Luckily, this disease is in no way a death toll and can be effectively controlled, given the discipline of a patient. Diabetes management includes a healthy diet, an active lifestyle, and taking medications prescribed by a doctor.

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