You have probably heard of diabetes before, but how extensive is your knowledge on it? While it's about sugar, yes, there are other aspects of diabetes you'll need to learn in order to have yourself checked and get diagnosed properly. But the question is: What do you feel if you have diabetes and what happens if you do? That would depend on what type of diabetes you have, which is why it's crucial to learn more about it, especially if you or a family member has the condition.
To learn all about diabetes, read on for a discussion about what you need to know and a guide to its symptoms and treatment.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is caused by the erratic changes in your blood sugar or the body substance known as insulin. There are two main types:
- Type I: Your body's immune system would attack and destroy cells that produce insulin
- Type II: Where your body doesn't produce enough insulin or does not react to it
There is also such a thing as pre-diabetes, in which your risk of getting the condition is increased. While diabetes can only be maintained, you can still make lifestyle changes to maintain your blood sugar levels and lower your risk of having diabetes. Pregnant women may also experience gestational diabetes, where they have high levels of glucose in their blood due to their inability to produce enough insulin. It can increase the risk of complications when giving birth, though it can be controlled through medication and diet.
What are the causes of diabetes?
There are three main causes of diabetes:
Hereditary: If diabetes runs in the family, then there are higher chances of getting it as well.
Lifestyle: If you lack exercise and have poor nutrition, eating far more or less sugar than you should, then your chances of getting diabetes will increase. Studies have shown that those who are obese have more of a chance to get diabetes.
Pregnancy: As mentioned, pregnant women may have gestational pregnancy due to the hormonal changes in their bodies.
Symptoms of diabetes
Here are some symptoms you need to watch out for if you're worried about becoming diabetic or already are diabetic:
Thirst and urination: Being excessively thirsty and going to the bathroom to urinate frequently are the two most common symptoms of diabetes. This is because of the excess glucose builds up in your blood. Because of that, your kidneys work overtime to filter and absorb the glucose, with it being excreted in your urine with other body fluids. It leaves you urinating more while dehydrating your body, causing excessive thirst (which results in you urinating more again).
Fatigue: Because of dehydration or your body's inability to function properly due to less sugar for energy, you might feel tired or fatigued. Since you're tired all the time and your blood sugars aren't level, you may experience depression-like symptoms.
Weight fluctuations: Weight loss is another common symptom, as sugars would be released through your urine and it may keep it from entering your cells. So, you lose calories while craving for more food to replenish the lost sugars, resulting in constant weight fluctuations. Some people even feel tingly or numb in the feet due to mild nerve damage, or shaky because of cravings for sugar and carbs.
Blurry vision: The high levels of blood sugar would pull fluid from tissues, which includes the lenses of your eyes. As a result, you lose your ability to focus, leading to blurred vision and focus.
Dry mouth and skin: Since you are dehydrated from the loss of body fluids, it would take a toll on your mouth or skin, since it loses moisture.
Wounds heal slowly: Since the immune system can't work well if sugar levels are out of whack, it then slows down the healing process of wounds and other infections.
Some people also experience the following symptoms:
- Women have increased chances of getting yeast infections or urinary tract infections. It may also take a toll on their fertility and sex drive.
- Some people have a sweet or fruity breath, or it can be an acetone odor.
(But take note that not all people would experience these symptoms, and most people with type II diabetes don't have it.)
What can happen if left untreated?
If left untreated, there would be very dire consequences. Some people have experienced a loss of vision due to damaged nerves. Others have also experienced getting body parts amputated due to the numbness and blood loss from poor blood circulation. Another fatal effect of diabetes is diabetic shock, which can ultimately lead to death if not given the proper medical attention immediately. You can get diagnosed with diabetes from your doctor through various blood tests, focusing on your sugar levels. He or she will then prescribe you the necessary medication and treatment suitable for you to maintain the condition. For more detail, you will undergo three tests to become diagnosed with diabetes:
- A fasting glucose test- Testing blood sugar levels before you have eaten in the morning.
- Oral glucose tolerance test- Drinking a beverage to have your blood sugar levels checked every hour or so to see if there are any odd fluctuations.
- A1c test- A blood test to show the average sugar levels in your body for the past few months.
Other urine or blood tests will also be done for further examination of your blood sugar.
Treatment and living with diabetes
To treat diabetes, you will need to know the type you have to get the right diet plan and medication. For those who have type I diabetes, they would manage with insulin and dietary changes, including a change of meals and more exercise. Those who have type II diabetes would have non-insulin and insulin medications, as well as dietary changes and more exercise for weight loss if recommended. Insulin is essential to keep your blood sugar levels at bay. You can administer insulin through syringes, pre-filled pens, or an insulin pump. Nutrition is also just as important, avoiding food that may have your blood sugar lose control and trigger symptoms. That's why there is now such a thing as the diabetes diet, where you have an equal amount of macronutrients and focus on low glycemic index foods.
While diabetes can be difficult to handle, it certainly isn't impossible. As long as you know what causes the symptoms and how you can treat it immediately, you'll be able to live a healthy and worry-free life. All you need to do is follow the right diet and lifestyle to avoid the symptoms from occurring again.
We hope that this article on diabetes fully informed you about everything you need to know about the condition, from what causes it down to how you can treat it.