Diabetes is a disease with too much sugar in the blood. Your blood vessels can get hurt by it. This makes you more likely to get heart and blood vessel diseases.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a sickness when your body can’t make enough insulin or use it correctly. It makes the blood have too much blood glucose or sugar. Diabetes comes in two primary forms. When your body stops making insulin, you have type 1 diabetes. It is sometimes called “juvenile diabetes” because it is often found in kids and teens but can also happen to adults.
When your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use the insulin as it should, you have type 2 diabetes. Previously, doctors thought that type 2 diabetes was only a risk for people. But the sickness is now found in many children in the United States. Doctors think that most of this rise is because more kids are overweight or fat and aren’t as busy as they used to be.
Prediabetes is when your blood sugar is increased than it should be but not high enough to be called diabetes. Pre-diabetes makes the chance of getting type 2 diabetes much higher. If you have prediabetes, the good news is that you can stop or put off getting full-blown type 2 diabetes by changing your lifestyle. Some of these are living well, getting to and staying at a healthy weight, and working out regularly.
Signs and symptoms of diabetes
The symptoms are different for each person. In the early stages, there aren’t many signs that you have diabetes. You might not know you have it. But your eyes, kidneys, and heart may already be hurting. Some common signs are:
Loss of weight for no reason.
Tiredness or falling asleep.
Vision is blurry.
Wounds, sores, or cuts that don’t heal quickly.
Dry skin that itches.
Hands or feet that feel tingly or numb.
Skin, gum, bladder, or vaginal yeast diseases that come back often or keep coming back.
Insulin resistance can also happen in people with type 2 diabetes. This includes skin getting darker around the neck or armpits, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, yeast infections, and teen girls and women who don’t get their periods or don’t get them for a while. People can get diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) if their blood sugar is high. This is a hazardous problem that can happen when diabetes is not under control.
People with DKA may have:
Getting sick or throwing up more than once.
Breathe faster and more profoundly.
Someone’s breath smells like nail paint remover.
Weakness, sleepiness, shakiness, confusion, or feeling dizzy.
Muscles that don’t move together.
If you don’t treat your diabetes, your blood sugar will get too high. When this happens, the person may have trouble breathing, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, become dehydrated, or even go into a coma and die.
What are the causes of diabetes?
When you have type 1 diabetes, your body quits creating insulin. This is because the cells in the pancreas that make insulin are attacked and killed by the immune system. If one of your parents or relatives has type 1 diabetes, you are more likely to get it too.
Most of the food you eat is turned into glucose, a type of sugar, by your body. This glucose can enter all of your cells because of a hormone called insulin. It is used as energy there. This keeps glucose from getting into your cells and keeps it in your blood. Too much glucose in the blood can hurt the blood vessels, nerves, heart, eyes, and kidneys.
Some things that put you at risk for type 2 diabetes are:
Weight. Type 2 diabetes is most likely to happen to people who are overweight or obese. The more fat you have, the less insulin your body responds to. Talk to your doctor to find out if you’re too heavy. Regular exercise and a healthy, low-fat diet can help you slowly lose weight.
Age. The chance of getting type 2 diabetes increases, especially after age 45. Even though you can’t change your age, there are other things you can do to lower your chance.
Family history. You can’t change your family’s past, but you and your doctor still need to know if diabetes comes into your family. If your mother, father, or child has diabetes, you are more likely to get it too. If anybody in your family has diabetes, you should tell your doctor.
Pregnancy. Diabetes that only happens during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. Even though gestational diabetes goes away after a woman gives birth, about half of the women who had it 15 years later are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Women with kids weighing 9 pounds or greater are more likely to get type 2 diabetes in the future, even if they don’t have gestational diabetes. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says pregnant women should be verified for gestational diabetes after the 24th week. The AAFP thinks there isn’t enough information to say whether or not pregnant women should be checked for gestational diabetes before the 24th week of pregnancy.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This disease happens when a woman’s body doesn’t have the right amount of hormones, and cysts form on her ovaries. Type 2 diabetes is more likely to occur in women who have PCOS.
Smoking and alcohol. Drinking or smoking might make you more likely to get type 2 diabetes. Don’t smoke as soon as you can. It’s probably OK to have a drink with a meal, but you shouldn’t have more than one serving of booze daily. Less is even better. A helping of wine is 4 ounces, beer is 12 ounces, and hard liquor is 1.5 ounces.
The more risk factors you have, the more likely you will get type 2 diabetes. Talk to your doctor about delaying or avoiding type 2 diabetes if you have two or more risk factors.
How is diabetes diagnosed?
If your doctor thinks you might be at risk for diabetes after looking at you, talking to you about your symptoms, and reviewing your health history, he or she may test you for it. Your doctor may ask you to do one or more of the following tests:
Fasting blood sugar test. This test typically occurs in the morning, following an 8-hour fast (during which the person does not eat or drink anything except water). A small needle is put into the vein in your arm to take blood for the blood test. The blood will be transmitted to a lab where it will be tested. If your blood sugar read is 126 mg/dL or greater, your doctor will likely want to repeat the test. Diabetes is found when the blood sugar level is 126 mg/dL or higher at least twice. A blood sugar number of 100 mg per dL to 125 mg per dL indicates prediabetes. Regular blood sugar is less than 99 mg per dL.
Oral glucose tolerance test. Over this test, you will be given a drink with 75 grams of glucose dispersed in water. This tastes like sweet water. A doctor or nurse will check how much glucose is in your blood two hours later. Diabetes occurs if the blood sugar level is 200 mg/dL or higher.
Random blood sugar test. This test can be done at any time of day to find out how much glucose is in your blood. No matter when you last ate, it doesn’t matter.
A1C blood test. This test tells how much glucose has been in a person’s blood over the past 3 months. The results are given as several percent. The A1C amount should be less than 5.7%. If your A1C is higher than that, your blood sugar has been higher than average. You have prediabetes if the test result is between 5.7% and 6.4%. If the result is 6.5% or higher, you have diabetes.
The AAFP says that overweight or fat adults between 40 and 70 should be checked for type 2 diabetes as a section of a heart risk assessment. Doctors are encouraged to offer or send patients with high blood glucose levels to behavioral therapies to encourage a healthy diet and physical exercise.