Diabetes Types | Diabetes Causes | Diabetes Symptoms | Diabetes Tests | Diabetes Treatments
Diabetes is a number of diseases that involve problems with the hormone insulin. Normally, the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat.
Diabetes can occur when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin, or when the body does not respond appropriately to insulin. As yet, there is no cure. People with diabetes need to manage their disease to stay healthy.
Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism — the way our bodies use digested food for growth and energy.
There are three main types of diabetes:
- Type 1,
- Type 2, and
- Gestational Diabetes
What is diabetes? What are the types of diabetes? | Diabetes Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
Diabetes is a number of diseases that involve problems with the hormone insulin. Normally, the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat. Diabetes occurs when one of the following occurs:
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 is a lifelong disease. Approximately 18.2 million Americans have the disease and almost one-third (or approximately 5.2 million) are unaware that they have it. An additional 41 million people have pre-diabetes. As yet, there is no cure. People with diabetes need to manage their disease to stay healthy.
The Role of Insulin in Diabetes | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
To understand why insulin is important in diabetes, it helps to know more about how the body uses food for energy. Your body is made up of millions of cells. To make energy, these cells need food in a very simple form. When you eat or drink, much of your food is broken down into a simple sugar called “glucose.” Then, glucose is transported through the bloodstream to the cells of your body where it can be used to provide some of the energy your body needs for daily activities.
The amount of glucose in your bloodstream is tightly regulated by the hormone insulin. Insulin is always being released in small amounts by the pancreas. When the amount of glucose in your blood rises to a certain level, the pancreas will release more insulin to push more glucose into the cells. This causes the glucose levels in your blood (blood glucose levels) to drop.
To keep your blood glucose levels from getting too low (hypoglycemia or low blood sugar), your body signals you to eat and releases some glucose from storage kept in the liver.
People with diabetes either don’t make insulin or their body’s cells are resistant to insulin, leading to high levels of sugar circulating in the blood, called simply high blood sugar. By definition, diabetes is having a blood glucose level of 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or more after an overnight fast (not eating anything).
Types of Diabetes | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
Type 1 Diabetes | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatment
Type 1 diabetes occurs because the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (called beta cells) are destroyed by the immune system. People with type 1 diabetes produce no insulin and must use insulin injections to control their blood sugar.
Type 1 diabetes most commonly starts in people under the age of 20 but may occur at any age.
Type 2 Diabetes | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
Unlike people with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes produce insulin. However, the insulin their pancreas secretes is either not enough or the body is resistant to the insulin. When there isn’t enough insulin or the insulin is not used as it should be, glucose can’t get into the body’s cells.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting almost 18 million Americans. While most of these cases can be prevented, it remains for adults the leading cause of diabetes-related complications such as blindness, non-traumatic amputations, and chronic kidney failure requiring dialysis. Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in people over age 40 who are overweight but can occur in people who are not overweight. Sometimes referred to as “adult-onset diabetes,” type 2 diabetes has started to appear more often in children because of the rise in obesity in young people.
Some people can manage their type 2 diabetes by controlling their weight, watching their diet, and exercising regularly. Others may also need to take a pill that helps their body use insulin better, or take insulin injections.
Often, doctors are able to detect the likelihood of type 2 diabetes before the condition actually occurs. Commonly referred to as pre-diabetes, this condition occurs when a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
Gestational diabetes is triggered by pregnancy. Hormone changes during pregnancy can affect insulin’s ability to work properly. The condition occurs in approximately 4% of all pregnancies.
Pregnant women who have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes are those who are over 25 years old, are above their normal body weight before pregnancy, have a family history of diabetes, or are Hispanic, black, Native American, or Asian.
Screening for gestational diabetes is performed during pregnancy. Left untreated, gestational diabetes increases the risk of complications to both the mother and their unborn child.
Usually, blood sugar levels return to normal within six weeks of childbirth. However, women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes? | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes often occur suddenly and can be severe. They include:
- 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)
The symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes may be the same as those listed above. Most often, there are no symptoms or very gradual development of the above symptoms.
Other symptoms may include: | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
- 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
How Is Diabetes Managed? | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
At the present time, diabetes can’t be cured, but it can be managed and controlled. The goals of managing diabetes are to:
Keep your blood sugar levels as near to normal as possible by balancing food intake with medication and activity.
Maintain your blood cholesterol and triglyceride (lipid) levels as near their normal ranges as possible by avoiding added sugars and processed starches and by reducing saturated fat and cholesterol.
Control your blood pressure. Your blood pressure should not go over 130/80.
Slow or possibly prevent the development of diabetes-related health problems.
You hold the key to managing your diabetes by:
- Planning what you eat and following a balanced meal plan
- Exercising regularly
- Taking medicine, if prescribed, and closely following the guidelines on how and when to take it
- Monitoring your blood sugar and blood pressure levels at home
- Keeping your appointments with your health care providers and having laboratory tests as ordered by your doctor
Remember: What you do at home every day affects your blood sugar more than what your doctor can do every few months during your checkups.
12 Tips for Blood Sugar Control When You Have Type 2 Diabetes
1. Track your Blood Sugar Level regularly | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
Check your blood sugar levels at least once a day with a blood glucose meter, and keep a record of the readings. Know what’s normal, high, and low. You’ll be able to spot patterns and give your health care team the information they need to craft a treatment plan for when things get off-track.
2. Pay Attention to Portions | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
Even when you’re eating healthy food, you can have too much of a good thing. A good rule of thumb: Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, and split the other half between a lean protein and a grain.
3. Fill Up Meals with Fiber | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
It’s a good way to bulk up your meals. And since your body doesn’t digest it, it doesn’t raise your blood sugar. Aim for at least 25 grams a day. Fruits and veggies with the skin on, whole grains, and legumes are all good sources.
4. Be Carbohydrate Smart | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
Carbohydrates turn right into glucose after you eat them. So it’s extra important to keep them in check. When you choose your carbs, give your body the good stuff: fruits, veggies, whole grains, and beans. Ease up on less healthy options, like white bread and white rice.
5. Keep Your Body Cool | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
When you have diabetes, you feel hotter faster than other people. A hot body doesn’t deal with blood sugar as well. Wear loose-fitting, cool clothes and a hat. Head for the air conditioning when temps are their highest.
6. Get Physical Exercises | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
Regular exercise makes insulin work better in your body. Being active is vital to lowering your blood sugar, so find your workout groove. Take walks, swim a few laps, do yoga, dance — find something you enjoy, and make it part of every day.
7. Don’t Lose your Sleep | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
Crummy sleep leaves you grumpy and tired. Did you know it can also raise your blood sugar levels the next day? What’s more, it leaves your brain foggy and your hormones out of whack. Make sleep a priority: Shut off screens, wind down, and aim for 8 hours of shut-eye every night.
8. Check Your Weight | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
Extra pounds put a strain on your body and bump up your blood sugar. Small shifts each day can move you toward a healthier weight. Write down your meals and snacks each day to give yourself a better picture of what you eat. Find a way to move your body for at least 30 minutes a day. Even dropping 10-15 pounds can make a big difference.
9. Mind Your Medication | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage their condition without medication. Only your doctor can make that call. If you do need insulin or other meds, take them as you should, even when you feel good. They have a direct effect on your blood sugar levels and help you control ups and downs.
10. Opt for Meditation | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
When stress is high, so is a hormone in your body called cortisol. Too much of it messes with how well your body manages sugar in the blood. If you can get stress out of your life, do it. If not, change how you react to it: Take up meditation, eat and sleep well, see a counselor, and exercise. Taking care of your mental health boosts your physical health, too.
11. Control Your Fats | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
Your body needs fat for energy. But bad ones like saturated and trans fats can be tough for your blood sugar. Choose healthy fats like monounsaturated, omega-3, and polyunsaturated ones. Go for fish and lean meats instead of red meat. Avoid fried foods. Choose low-fat dairy, and say no to sauces.
12. Drink more Water | Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatments
Diabetes can dry you out. When that happens, your blood struggles to keep sugar levels low. This makes you go to the bathroom more, which dehydrates you even further. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink. Find a water bottle you like and carry it with you everywhere. Ask your doctor how much you should be drinking every day. Ease up on caffeine, too.