Diabetes is a severe condition when the blood sugar level of a person becomes too high. This can affect anyone and can be dangerous if not properly treated. This section focuses on the meaning of diabetes, various types of it and the diabetes symptoms in detail.
Table of Contents
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the blood sugar, also known as the blood glucose level of the body increases than the normal level. It is a serious condition that occurs when the body, or to be specific, the pancreas is unable to make or use the insulin that it produces.
The food we consume produces glucose. This glucose then enters the cells from the bloodstream. Insulin, a hormone that is produced by Islets, which are some special cells of the pancreas of our body, is responsible for letting the glucose pass into the cells from the bloodstream. The body then turns this glucose into energy.
A body that is affected by Diabetes either fails to use the insulin well or fails to produce enough insulin required by it. This, in turn, does not let the glucose reach the cells and stay in the bloodstream increasing its level. If the glucose level of the body remains high for a long period of time, it can cause serious damage to the tissues and organs ultimately leading to its failure.
What are the types of Diabetes?
The diabetes symptoms depend on the type of diabetes one is affected with. There are four types of diabetes. These are:
1. Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes is caused when the body fails to make insulin. It is also referred to as ‘Juvenile Diabetes’ for the fact that it mostly affects teenagers and children. However, it can affect people of all ages. Only 10 amongst 100 people are affected with this type of diabetes.
In this type of diabetes, the autoimmune system of the body attacks the Islet cells of the pancreas that produces the Insulin hormone. Once destroyed, the body loses its capacity to produce the insulin that is required by the body to normalize the blood sugar levels. This attack is referred to as an autoimmune disease.
Not treating this can be deadly for the patient. It has the capacity to damage various organs of the human body such as the nerves, heart, and kidneys. It can also be as fatal as death.
2. Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes, also referred to as non-insulin dependent diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Around 90 out of 100 people are affected with Type 2 diabetes, making it the most commonly found form. It is also referred to as ‘Adult Onset Diabetes’ for the fact that it mainly occurs in people above the age of 35 years.
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, in this type, the body does produce a certain amount of insulin. However, the body fails to use the insulin that it produces. This is referred to as ‘Insulin Resistance’.
Type 2 diabetes can be brought under control by living a relatively healthy lifestyle, controlling body weight and exercising regularly.
3. Gestational Diabetes
This type of diabetes occurs in some women when they are pregnant. Although this type of diabetes goes away once the child is delivered, the mother has a high chance of getting diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes within five to ten years of the delivery.
This is the most neglected form of diabetes and can create a great threat for both the child and the mother. Therefore, women who are diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes should regularly keep their blood glucose under check.
Although the diabetes symptoms vary from one type to the other, there are many symptoms especially in Type 1 and Type 2 that overlaps and are similar. However, as the type is different and so are the treatments. Here are the diabetes symptoms of various types of diabetes:
1. Type 1 Diabetes
This type of diabetes mainly affects children but many adults face it too. Since in this type the pancreas fails to produce insulin, it is important to understand the signs of diabetes and treat it accordingly at the earliest to avoid complications.
Type 1 diabetes symptoms include:
- Increased level of thirst
- Feeling of extreme hunger, even though one is eating
- Sudden bed wetting accidents in children
- Weakness, tiredness, and fatigue at all times
- Loss of muscles and weight loss, even without trying or without any cause
- Unusual and frequent urination
- Cuts and sores that are healing extremely slowly
- Eyesight becoming blurred and unclear
- Eyes becoming dry
- Skin becomes itchy and dry, followed by infections
- Mood swings and irritability
- Sensation of itch around the vagina or penis
- Cramps that are unexpected
- Numbness or tingling feeling on the feet or hands
- Unusual smell of breath
These are some of the most noticeable signs and symptoms of diabetes type 1. However, the main symptoms of type 1 diabetes are referred to as the 4T’s of Type 1 diabetes. These are:
Polydipsia is a condition where the level of thirst abnormally increases, marking the initial signs and symptoms of diabetes. Although drinking a lot of water is considered very healthy for the body, the people who are affected with Type 1 diabetes show an abnormal amount of thirst. Some signs of abnormal thirst include:
- Small gaps between feeling thirsty.
- Increased level of thirst at night.
- Being thirsty even after drinking a glass full of water.
Abnormally frequent visit to the toilet of a child is one of the diabetes symptoms. In cases where the child suddenly starts to regularly wet the bed at night which they did not previously is a matter of concern.
Unexpected or abnormal loss of body weight even after having regular and proper meals is an indication of type 1 diabetes amongst children. This happens due to the fact that the pancreas of the body fails to produce insulin which is the key to let the glucose enter the cells from the bloodstreams, which then gets converted into energy. Due to this, the body starts using the fat of the body and uses it as an alternate source of energy by breaking it down.
Children affected with type 1 diabetes are likely to be tired at all times. As explained, since the body fails to produce Insulin that works as a key factor of letting the glucose into the cells, helping it to get converted into energy, the body remains unnourished and tired due to lack of energy.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. If the diabetes symptoms are recognized early, it can be properly treated and a person can be saved from having severe complications of the organs. Some signs that indicate Type 2 diabetes are:
Need to urinate frequently
With the increase in the blood sugar levels, the frequency of urinating of a person increases. This is because, with the increase of the glucose levels, the body starts to extract fluids from the cells. This, in turn, increases the quantity of fluid delivered to the kidneys resulting in an increase in the frequency of urinating.
Increased level of thirst
As the frequency of urinating of a person increases, the body becomes dehydrated. This is mainly because the body in the tendency to remove the excess sugar also tends to lose additional water. This increases the thirst of a person which ultimately results in more urination.
Weakness, Tiredness, and Fatigue
A person affected with type 2 diabetes naturally gets tired very easily. This is because the cells of the body lack glucose which is the main source of energy. A person feels exhausted when the cells fail to absorb sugar.
Loss of body weight
As the body does not receive energy from glucose, it tends to break down the muscles and the fat as an alternative source of energy causing abnormal weight loss of the patient.
When the blood sugar level increases, the tiny vessels of the eyes get damaged. A high amount of glucose causes the lens of the eyes to swell. This, in turn, results in blurred vision. Permanent damage can occur to the eyes resulting in permanent loss of vision if proper treatment is not done in time.
Patches of dark skin
Acanthosis Nigricans is a condition where the skin around the neck, underarms forms dark patches, and the skin become very velvety and soft. This is also one of the diabetes symptoms.
Increased level of hunger
Lack of insulin does not let the glucose enter the cells of the body. As a result, the body fails to draw energy from the food that one has eaten. Therefore, a person who is affected by type 2 diabetes always feels hungry regardless of the times they eat.
Slow healing of sores and infections
As the blood sugar level increases, the blood circulation gets impaired as it affects many blood vessels and nerves. Therefore, the healing power of the body decreases and results in slow healing of sores and cuts which can take months. These open cuts, therefore, have high risks of turning into infections.
Pain and numbness in feet and hands
People with type 2 diabetes have high chances of their nerves getting damaged due to high level of blood sugar. As a result, they often feel their hands or feet paining or a sensation of numbness in those areas. This condition is referred to as Neuropathy and can have extreme consequences if not treated immediately.
As the sugar level of the urine and blood increases, it provides food for the yeasts. Therefore, moist areas like underarms, mouth, genitals have high chances of developing infections. These infections are marked by itchiness, redness and burning sensations.
Some other immediate emergency Type 2 diabetes symptoms include:
- Dental problems – inflamed gums, mouth infections, and more
- A high amount of sweating
- Having trouble thinking
- Mood swings and irritability
- Increased heartbeat
- Dry Mouth
Although Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women and is usually temporary, it remains important to identify the signs of diabetes and treat them in order to ensure the health of the mother and the child. This kind of diabetes mainly occurs because the body fails to produce an adequate amount of insulin that is required during pregnancy to regulate the sugar.
Some of the symptoms of Gestational diabetes are as follows:
- Increased thirst
- Increase in the frequency of urination
- Dry mouth
- Weakness, tiredness, and fatigue
- Blurred vision
- Sugar present in the urine
- Frequent skin infections
- Frequent vaginal and bladder infections
What is the treatment of Diabetes?
- Type 1 Diabetes: In Type 1 diabetes, the main treatment to control diabetes is to intake insulin shots regularly. This shot provides the body the insulin which the body otherwise is unable to produce and acts as a replacement for the insulin hormone.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is comparatively easier to control. People diagnosed with this type should regularly monitor their life by leading a healthy life. You can make lifestyle changes by regular exercise and good diet. Along with this proper medications help to keep the blood sugar level under control.
- Gestational Diabetes: In order to ensure the health of the child and the mother is good, diabetes needs to be measured several times during the course of the pregnancy. According to it changes in the exercise and diet of the woman should be made and followed.
Diabetes can affect people of all ages, regardless of where they come from. Therefore, it remains of utmost important to identify the prediabetes symptoms and take the necessary steps to bring it under control.