Diabetes

The production and use of a sufficient amount of insulin are necessary for the body to convert sugar in the blood into energy for the body to use.  Diabetes is a disease in which the beta cells in the pancreas do not produce any or enough insulin, or in which the body does not recognize the insulin.  General symptoms of the disease include fatigue, blurred vision, increased thirst and frequent urination.  Although it can be managed, diabetes cannot be cured.

Type 1 diabetes
In the instance where the body produces no insulin, an individual has Type 1 diabetes and relies on injections to help control blood sugar.  Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children and young adults, although it can begin at any age.

Symptoms
Type 1 diabetes can arrive with the following symptoms:

  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurred vision

Instances of Kussmaul respirations, or heavy, labored breathing, and rare occurrences of fainting are also possible.  The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes can be severe and sudden.

Pre-diabetes
Before the development of Type 2 diabetes, a person usually unknowingly has pre-diabetes, or blood sugar levels that are above normal, yet not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.  This condition normally occurs without symptoms; however, the effects of diabetes of may begin during this stage of the disease.

Type 2 diabetes
As the most common form of diabetes, Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not respond to the insulin.  The onset of Type 2 diabetes is capable of being prevented and is tied to health and lifestyle factors, such as obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes can share many of the same symptoms as Type 1; however, there are other  symptoms also associated with the disease, including:

  • Frequent infection
  • Slow-healing cuts and bruises
  • Tingling and/or numbness in the hands and/or feet
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infection
  • Yeast infection
  • Impotence or erectile dysfunction

Gestational diabetes
Pregnant women may be diagnosed with gestational diabetes due to hormonal changes that affect the way insulin works in the body.  The disease is most prevalent in pregnant women who are over the age of 25, overweight, have a familial history of diabetes, and who are Hispanic, black, Native American or Asian.

A diagnosis of gestational diabetes does not necessarily mean that a woman will have diabetes once she has delivered; however, women who have had gestational diabetes are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later on in life.  There may be no symptoms for gestational diabetes and if diagnosed, women should closely follow doctor’s orders.  Symptoms that may occur are those that are associated with diabetes in general.

Treatment for Diabetes
While incurable, diabetes is very manageable. Adjustments in lifestyle and habits and regular medical maintenance are important factors for controlling diabetes. A balanced and healthy diet, regular exercise, doctor’s visits and medicine intake, along with maintaining healthy cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels can help control diabetes.

For more information about how proper weight management can help, click here.