Health

Diabetes: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

Evidence Based Article 📄
This article has been based on relevant and up-to-date scientific studies. Our writers are unbiased and objective and present the facts as they are known. Numbers in brackets within the article refer to sources included in the reference list at the end of the article.

Diabetes is a serious disease that can strike anyone regardless of age and walk of life. The latest statistics show that up to 422 million people worldwide are diagnosed with diabetes.

This number is drastically and fast increasing and more and more scientific researches has been conducting to find out the way to stop it.

No matter the type of diabetes, it’s a leading cause of kidney failure, blindness, heart failure, various amputations, stroke, infertility, and many other health issues.

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Living with any type of diabetes puts a huge financial, physical and emotional burden on the sufferer and their family. While in some cases, it’s impossible to prevent diabetes, there’s still a way to reduce your risk factor. Read on to learn more about diabetes and how you can treat or prevent it.

What’s diabetes?

Perhaps you have heard that diabetes is a serious condition, which is triggered by the increased levels of glucose (blood sugar) in the body. Diabetes can occur when the body doesn’t use insulin the right way or when it makes insulin wrongly or doesn’t make it at all.

Insulin is an important hormone, which is made in the organ near the stomach called pancreas. Insulin plays a critical role in aiding the glucose (sugars) from the foods you eat get into the cells of your body for energy. When your body has trouble producing enough insulin or it doesn’t use it correctly, the sugar builds up and stays in your blood system.

When left untreated, this extra amount of glucose can eventually cause prediabetes or a certain type of diabetes. Both prediabetes and diabetes increase your risk factor for other life-threatening and serious health issues, including stroke, heart disease, kidney damage, and blindness.

What’s prediabetes?

The whooping amount of 27 million women in the United States alone has been diagnosed with prediabetes. Prediabetes happens when the glucose (blood sugar) level in the system is much higher than a normal glucose level while still being lower than the level of the diabetes. Prediabetes means that now you’re at an increased risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

People who have prediabetes have to adopt healthy habits and make a lot of lifestyle changes to reduce their risk factor for type 2 diabetes. They need to do some kind of physical activity and completely alter their eating habits, eliminating refined sugars from their meal plans. In most cases, a healthy lifestyle helps to return to the normal glucose levels.

Overweight or obese people with prediabetes are at even higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is why they must lose weight to ward off diabetes. People with prediabetes have to check their blood glucose annually.

What are the main types of diabetes?

There are two widely-known types of diabetes – type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, which are both serious conditions. However, very few people know that they could be at risk of developing the third type of diabetes called gestational diabetes. There are also other types like diabetes LADA, diabetes MODY, double diabetes, type 3 diabetes, steroid-induced diabetes, brittle diabetes, secondary diabetes, diabetes inspidus, and juveline diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes: symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, prevention

Type 1 diabetes is a serious autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks and kills the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. This stops the body from making enough insulin to properly control the blood sugar levels.

Often referred to as juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes can actually affect people at any age, not only children. Type 1 diabetes is also called insulin dependent diabetes as it leads to the insulin production loss, requiring a consistent insulin administration by insulin pump or injection.

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The symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • genital itchiness;
  • rapid weight loss;
  • frequent peeing;
  • chronic fatigue and tiredness;
  • above average thirst;
  • blurred vision;
  • extreme hunger;
  • bed-wetting in kids;
  • mood swings.

Type 1 diabetes typically develops slowly, especially in adults and is often confused with type 2 diabetes. People over 35 years old with type 1 diabetes are often diagnosed with Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood (LADA).

The causes of type 1 diabetes include:

  • genetics;
  • viruses;
  • weak immune system.

Type 1 diabetes is triggered by a fault in the immune response of the body. The immune system targets and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas. These cells play a key role in making insulin. The more cells are destroyed, the weaker the body’s ability to manage the healthy blood sugar levels. Over time, the symptoms of type 1 diabetes start to show up.

Researchers are still not sure about the causes of the immune system’s fault and suggest that a combination of the environmental triggers with genetic predisposition can increase the likelihood of diabetes. A family history of the patient is one of the risk factors. Some studies revealed that a person with a family member suffering from type 1 diabetes is at a huge risk of developing diabetes as well.

How is type 1 diabetes diagnosed?

C-pepide test, GAD autoantibodies test, and Ketone test along with regular urine or/and blood tests are required to diagnose type 1 diabetes. Sometimes these tests show that a person has type 2 diabetes rather than type 1 diabetes.

How is type 1 diabetes treated?

The insulin treatment is needed to fix the ability of pancreas to produce insulin. Most patients with type 1 diabetes get injections with insulin pens to take insulin. Some wear an insulin pump to deliver insulin to the system.

It’s vital to learn and educate yourself when suffering from this type of diabetes. You need to know how to maintain a balance between dietary intake, insulin doses, and physical activity. Moreover, you need to know how to control your diabetes with the help of blood glucose testing.

Eating a healthy diet and exercising on a daily basis are also of the highest importance as a healthy lifestyle helps to regulate normal blood glucose levels and reduce the risk of the type 1 diabetes complications.

What are the complications of type 1 diabetes?

There are short-term and long-term complications that you might experience if you don’t treat type 1 diabetes or treat it wrongly. The short-term complications are ketoacidosis and hypoglycemia.

Ketoacidosis happens when you miss to take the required insulin doses or when your blood sugar levels get too high. Hypoglycemia is characterized by an extremely low blood glucose levels. The long-term complications include neuropathy, kidney disease, retinopathy, stroke, and heart disease.

Can type 1 diabetes be prevented?

A growing number of studies are trying to find the ways to prevent type 1 diabetes, but currently it’s impossible to do.

Type 2 diabetes: symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, prevention

The most common type of diabetes, type 2 diabetes is a serious metabolic disease that results in the high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) because of the body being unable to make enough insulin or being incapable of using the insulin it’s producing. It’s often referred to as insulin resistance.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the body’s inability to metabolize a simple sugar (glucose). This causes the high levels of the blood sugar that tend to negatively impact the body’s organs over time. People with type 2 diabetes can experience a kind of metabolic poison after eating regular foods that contain sugar. That’s why patients with type 2 diabetes should stay away from any source of dietary sugars.

People with this serious medical condition tend to reverse type 2 diabetes with the help of very low calorie diets, low carb diets, and physical activity. However, there are many factors to consider when treating this type of diabetes.

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The symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • unexpected loss of muscle mass;
  • extreme tiredness;
  • frequent and highly intense hunger pangs;
  • frequent urination;
  • excessive thirst.

Most of these type 2 diabetes symptoms are similar to those of type 1 diabetes, which is why a careful medical diagnosis is required to set the right diagnosis. The symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop slowly and it could take years to recognize any signs or symptoms of the disease.

What are the causes and risk factors of type 2 diabetes?

This type of diabetes develops when the insulin isn’t used properly by the cells of the body. The hormone is essential for the cells to take in sugar (glucose) from the blood system and turn it into energy.

The wrong use of the insulin makes the body resist the insulin, resulting in a disorder called an insulin resistance. This leads to hyperglycemia, which is an extremely increased the blood glucose levels. When left untreated, type 2 diabetes triggers a serious damage to the pancreas’ insulin producing cells, causing inadequate insulin production.

The risk factors of type 2 diabetes are:

  • smoking;
  • raised cholesterol levels;
  • high blood pressure or hypertension;
  • having a first-degree family member with type 2 diabetes;
  • physical inactivity;
  • poor nutrition;
  • having a waist size of up to 31.5 inches in females and up to 37 inches in males;
  • obesity or being overweight.

The environmental factors and genetic might also play a big role in developing type 2 diabetes. Scientists found out that if both parents suffer from type 2 diabetes, their child has an increased risk of developing this medical condition by 75%. If one parent is a sufferer, then the risk is 15%.

The age plays a less significant role, yet the latest findings showed that kids, teens, and young adults are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than older people. Scientists suggest it’s because of the high level of obesity.

How is type 2 diabetes diagnosed?

Type 2 diabetes is generally diagnosed with the help of an oral glucose tolerance test or a fasting plasma glucose test. A general practitioner can also detect diabetes while conducting a general health check. In some cases, diabetes screening is required to set a diagnosis.

How is type 2 diabetes treated?

The major treatment for type 2 diabetes usually consists of regular exercise and healthy eating habits.  The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE ) claims that type 2 diabetes treatment should be based on an individual’s preferences and needs. Patients with type 2 diabetes should reconsider their lifestyles and habits with healthcare professionals.

The NICE guidelines recommend switching to a low glycemic index carbohydrate and high fiber diet. It provides flexibility and gives an opportunity to stick to a range of eating plans, including low calorie and lower carb, while making sure you consume low glycemic index foods like beans, vegetables, and some fruit. It’s also recommended to limit your alcohol consumption or ditch it at all.

People with type 2 diabetes should regularly check their blood sugar levels to see how their diet and lifestyle affects the blood sugar levels. Certain medications might be required to relieve the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

One of the most frequently prescribed type 2 diabetes medications is metformin that helps to improve the body’s response to the insulin. Other medical treatments include Bydureon, Victoza, and Byetta.

In rare cases, insulin injections are required to treat type 2 diabetes. Keeping healthy blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure is critical for lowering the risk of developing the diabetic complications (read below). If you’re obese or overweight, losing weight might help you to reduce the extent of type 2 diabetes symptoms.

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What are the complications of type 2 diabetes?

The complications are less likely to occur when you treat diabetes correctly, yet some people with type 2 diabetes can experience:

  • retinopathy (a serious eye disease);
  • nephropathy (kidney disease);
  • stroke;
  • heart disease;
  • neuropathy (nerve damage) that increases the risk factor for amputation;
  • sexual dysfunction;
  • depression;

50% of patients with type 2 diabetes start experiencing the early signs of these complications by the time they’re diagnosed with diabetes. The statistics also show that 1 in 3 patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have overt kidney disease. About 60% of patients have nerve damage.

Can type 2 diabetes be prevented?

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with prediabetes, it’s not a reason for a panic. Yes, now you have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, however, you can prevent it. The whole prevention process revolves around your lifestyle and bad eating habits.

Concentrate the things and habits you can alter to be closer to a healthier lifestyle. Reconsider your diet and think about how physically active you are. Pay attention to the amount of sleep you get each night and its quality.

Avoid dwelling on your family’s medical history or age, as these aren’t the major factors. Seeing your doctor regularly and checking your blood sugar level are highly important too.

Becoming more active, eating healthier, and losing extra weight are the most effective steps to take in order to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Multiple researches showed that being obese or overweight could be the single and most critical factor that indicated who were at risk of getting type 2 diabetes. The research results showed that a regular 30-minute exercise each day and a high-fiber, low-fat diet helped to reduce the risk of diabetes.

Gestational diabetes

The third most common type of diabetes, gestational diabetes is a medical condition that happens when you have the high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) during pregnancy.

It typically develops between 24 and 28 weeks, in the third trimester, and vanishes after a child birth. Women who have gestational diabetes while being pregnancy have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The risk factors for gestational diabetes are:

  • obesity;
  • a family history of any type of diabetes;
  • the high blood glucose levels;
  • being Asian, African-American, Native American, or Hispanic;
  • having a history of gestational diabetes;
  • the high blood pressure;
  • giving a birth to a baby that had certain birth defects or was stillborn;
  • giving a birth to a bigger than 9 pound baby.

Pregnant women who have gestational diabetes typically experience no symptoms. The majority of women find out their diagnosis during regular pregnancy screening tests. In rare cases, pregnant women with gestational diabetes can experience the symptoms, such as:

  • extremely frequent urination;
  • intense hunger pangs and overeating;
  • feeling more thirsty than usual.

The treatment doesn’t involve any harsh medications. You will need to do a few urine tests to help your doctor know if you have ketones and if your diabetes is under control or not. Moreover, you’ll need to check your blood glucose levels 4 (in some cases more) times throughout the day. It’s highly important to track your blood sugar levels as some pregnant women need to take insulin to control gestational diabetes. You will also need to stay active and perform specific exercises. Healthy diet that eliminated all types of refined sugars is another critical part of treatment.

Any type of diabetes is no joke and prevention is the best treatment. But remember that the early detection of any medical condition can significantly reduce your risk of experiencing the complications.

References:

https://medlineplus.gov/diabetes.html

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-types.html

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/gestational-diabetes.html

https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/diabetes

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