Information on diabetes and the symptoms of diabetes.

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  1. What is Diabetes?
  2. Diagnosing Diabetes
  3. What Causes Diabetes?
  4. Help for Diabetes
  5. More Information on Diabetes

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a biochemical disorder which affects the body's ability to use carbohydrates, sugars and starches. People with diabetes are not able to produce sufficient insulin or are unable to use the insulin they produce effectively enough to break down glucose or sugar in the blood and make it available to the body. More than 16 million Americans alone suffer from diabetes.

The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes most commonly surfaces in childhood and is usually associated with the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin. People with Type 1 Diabetes are also called Insulin-Dependent because they have to take insulin for life. Type 2 Diabetes is often called Adult Onset Diabetes and usually occurs after the age of 40. People with Type 2 Diabetes do produce insulin in the pancreas, but their body cells have become resistant to it. There is however an alarming increase in the number of young adults and even children who are developing Type 2 Diabetes and this is closely linked to unhealthy life style habits and increasing rates of obesity in the younger age groups.

Although people with controlled diabetes lead a normal healthy life, uncontrolled diabetes means chronically elevated blood sugar levels which slowly destroy proteins in the body, causing considerable damage to tissues and organs. Complications from untreated or poorly controlled diabetes include kidney damage, heart disease, nerve damage, and even blindness.

Diagnosing Diabetes

Diabetes must be diagnosed by a medical doctor or endocrinologist. If you are at all concerned about whether you have diabetes, especially if you are overweight and have a family history of diabetes, please seek medical advice.

Diabetes is diagnosed quite simply by measuring the levels of glucose in the blood and so a blood test is usually necessary to make a confirmed diagnosis. If a random blood glucose reading is raised, more in depth blood tests may be performed to monitor the body’s response to a glucose load.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
  • Frequent and excessive urination
  • Always thirsty
  • Chronic fatigue, lethargy and weakness
  • Cuts and wounds that don’t seem to heal normally
  • Weight loss without dieting
  • Loss of libido
  • Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
  • Recurring infections, especially urinary tract infections, thrush and athletes foot
  • Blurred vision

What Causes Diabetes?

There are no clear answers about the cause of Type 1 Diabetes, which makes the pancreas stop producing insulin. Some theorists believe that Type 1 Diabetes may be an auto-immune response or that it could be caused by a virus.

Type 2 Diabetes, which usually begins in adulthood, is strongly linked to obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle. Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are known to have a strong genetic link. This means that if you have people in your family who have diabetes, then it is even more important to follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and work to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle.

Help for Diabetes

While treatment depends on a number of factors including the signs and symptoms of diabetes, type of diabetes, and severity and age. Most treatment regimes include lifestyle changes, medicinal treatment, as well as close monitoring of blood glucose levels.

Various Treatments for Diabetes

Medical Treatment

People with type 1 diabetes no longer produce insulin, and therefore must have an alternate source of insulin to help the body utilize the glucose obtained from eating. For this reason, people with type-1 diabetes must give themselves daily doses of insulin. Because insulin is a protein, it cannot be taken as a pill as it is then quickly broken down in the stomach acids. Instead, insulin is usually injected into the fat under the skin. Methods of insulin intake vary and may include using an insulin pump, insulin pen, jet injector or insulin patch.

People with type 2 diabetes are still able to make insulin, but their bodies cannot use it efficiently. People with type 2 diabetes therefore need diabetes medication or extra insulin to help their bodies use their own insulin better. Oral medications may include: sulfonylurea drugs, biguanides, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, meglitinides, and thiazolidinediones. It is strongly advised that you thoroughly research any prescription medication and its side-effects before beginning drug therapy.

Lifestyle Changes

Diet is a very important aspect in the treatment of diabetes. A long-term change in eating habits that ensures the right balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins is essential. Portion control and timing of meals and snacks are also important. Diet and exercise can often bring blood glucose levels down to normal in people with type 2 diabetes and a few healthy lifestyle changes should be the first port of call. Losing excess weight also helps the body to use the insulin and regulate blood sugar more efficiently.

More Information on Diabetes

Other Disorders or Complications that May be Related to Diabetes

Diabetes does come with a number of complications, and many other disorders tend to be more prevalent in those people already diagnosed with diabetes. Poor circulation, slow healing as well as eye problems are very common in people with diabetes. Other related disorders and complications include:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis
  • Hyperosmolar non-ketotic acidosis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Retinopathy damage to the retina of the eye
  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney disease
  • Necrobiosis – a skin disorder associated with diabetes
  • Mastopathy – lumps in the breasts
  • Musculoskeletal conditions
Tips for Coping with Diabetes
  • Exercise regularly. It has been shown that people who exercise regularly are 50% less likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes. If you have diabetes, it is still important to stay active, but make sure you take into consideration the type of physical activity you choose and how it will affect you. Overly strenuous activities may lead to sudden low blood sugar levels and should therefore be avoided.
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as foods containing whole grains, which contain Vitamin B and chromium.
  • If you are overweight, loose it! Obesity is one of the major risk factors in Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Managing diabetes starts with eating healthy. Reduce your intake of refined and processed foods containing high fat and sugar levels.
  • Monitoring your glucose levels is important so try adopting regular testing as a daily habit as soon as possible.
  • Coping with diabetes is a process that takes time. Try to remain patient and remember that optimism is your best friend!
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