Understanding Diabetes - Medx Health Assistance

Understanding Diabetes

It all starts with glucose. Glucose is an important source of energy for your brain and the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases that affect how your body uses glucose or blood sugar. There are various types of diabetes however, each one of them leads to an increased amount of sugar in the blood, which in turn can lead to serious health problems.

To understand diabetes, it is important to understand how glucose is processed in the body. Glucose majorly comes from food and liver. Your liver stores and makes glucose. If your glucose levels are low, then, to maintain the normal range, the liver breaks down stored glycogen into glucose or blood sugar. This sugar is then absorbed into the bloodstream where it enters cells with the help of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that comes from the pancreas, a gland situated below the stomach. Insulin circulates in the bloodstream and enables sugar to enter the cells. Hence, the amount of sugar in the bloodstream is dropped, which in turn lowers the secretion of insulin from the pancreas.

Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are conditions of chronic diabetes. On the contrary, prediabetes and gestational diabetes are conditions of reversible diabetes. Prediabetes is when the blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be categorized under diabetes. Moreover, if appropriate measures aren’t taken against prediabetes, it will develop into Type 2 diabetes. During pregnancy, sometimes, gestational diabetes develops with the resistance of insulin in the cells, which may resolve after the birth of the baby.

Type 1 Diabetes:  It usually appears during childhood or adolescence but can develop at any age. The root cause of type 1 diabetes is still unknown but it is thought to be caused by genetic susceptibility and environmental factors. It is when our immune system, which is set to fight bacteria and virus by default, also starts destroying the cells that produce insulin, in the pancreas. This results in little or no insulin in the bloodstream, due to which, sugar does not enter the cells and builds up in the bloodstream.

Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes: The more common type, usually found in people over 40 years of age however, type 2 diabetes can develop at any age. Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes is when the cells become resistant to insulin and to overcome this resistance the gland isn’t able to produce enough insulin. Therefore, blood sugar, unable to enter the cells, increases in the bloodstream. 

Gestational Diabetes: To sustain a pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that make cells more resistant to insulin. Normally in this situation, the pancreas starts producing enough extra insulin to overcome the resistance. But sometimes it can’t keep up, resulting in increased levels of blood sugar or glucose in the bloodstream.

Symptoms

Depending on how much your blood sugar is elevated, symptoms of diabetes vary. People with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes may sometimes not experience any symptoms. Type 1 diabetes however, comes with quick and severe symptoms.

Some signs and symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Presence of ketones in the urine
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections

Risk Factors

Researchers haven’t yet fully understood why some people develop type 1 diabetes, prediabetes or type 2 diabetes and others don’t. Although, certain factors do increase the risk, including:

  • Weight: With the presence of more fatty tissue, the cells become more resistant to insulin.
  • Inactivity: Exercise or physical activity, uses glucose as energy and makes the cells more sensitive to insulin. This helps you control your weight.
  • Family history: If a parent or sibling has diabetes, your risk increases.
  • Age: With the growing age, your risk increases. This could be due to the tendency of less exercising and gaining weight as you age. However, diabetes has also been increasing among children, adolescents and younger adults.

Complications

Disabling and life threatening complications can eventually develop, if the blood sugar levels are neglected or aren’t controlled appropriately. Some complications may include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Eye damage 
  • Foot damage.
  • Skin conditions
  • Hearing impairment
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression

To avoid long term complications of diabetes from developing one must maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle with appropriate diet and physical movement along with proper consultation medication and treatment from the doctor.

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