Diabetes

Table of Contents

Overview

Diabetes is when your body is either not making enough insulin or the body cannot use the insulin it makes. People who are at risk for diabetes should be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease.

Diabetes management includes diet, exercise, medication, and medical treatment. Diabetes is a serious medical condition and the symptoms should not go ignored.

Diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, affects the body’s ability to use glucose. Glucose is essential because it fuels the brain and the muscles and tissues in the body.

The four common types of diabetes include:

  • Type 1
  • Type 2
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Prediabetes

Diabetes means there is excessive sugar in the bloodstream.. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause problems with other parts of the body. It can cause heart disease, vision loss, dental issues, and kidney disease. It is important to understand what diabetes is and when to get the right medical help.

There is no cure for diabetes yet, but there are ways to manage the condition to help live a longer life.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is also called insulin-dependent diabetes. An individual with this condition is unlikely to produce enough of their own insulin for their needs. This means they can not maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Insulin allows glucose to enter the body’s cells, and without it, the sugar stays in the blood where it cannot be used. During metabolism, glucose is converted into energy for the needs of the cells.

Diabetes type 1 has no cure, unfortunately. Yet, the condition is treatable. Patients can take insulin, change diet, and increase exercise. Those three changes can help manage blood glucose levels.

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes

There is no known understanding of what can cause type 1 diabetes. There are several thoughts that doctors agree upon that cause type 1 diabetes.

  • It is an autoimmune reaction in the body. This is where the body attacks cells in the pancreas that make insulin by mistake.
  • Genetics which has diabetes passed down from parent to child.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes type 1 usually with sudden signs and symptoms. However, it can also occur more slowly in some people.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Have the need to urinate often.
  • Feeling fatigued most of the time.
  • Slowed healing
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Always being hungry.
  • An increase in appetite with a loss of weight.

Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes

Treating type 1 diabetes involves taking insulin. This is to help the body use the sugar that exists in the blood. Insulin is injected between one to five times daily, depending on the needs of the individual.

Insulin can be administered by self injection or via an insulin pump. Pumps attached to the body will inject the insulin and adjust the injection rate throughout the day.

Medication for Type 1 Diabetes

Some of the medications include:

Humulin

Novolin

NovoLog

Apidra

Toujeo

Ryzodeg

Type 2 Diabetes

A person may be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when their body is not sensitive enough to the insulin they already produce. This causes too much sugar to be in the blood circulating the body. Over time, problems can occur with the nervous, immune, and circulatory systems.

Managing type 2 diabetes has many options. The first recommended steps involve increasing activity and eating a healthier diet.

People with Type 2 diabetes should check their blood sugar levels daily through a glucose monitor. Typically one or more oral medications are given, and in some cases insulin might be used.

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body’s insulin sensitivity is too high or the pancreas is not producing enough insulin. The pancreas tries to make more insulin to make up for the lack of glucose in the cells. What happens is that the pancreas can not keep up and instead the glucose remains in the bloodstream.

To summarize:

  • The body has abnormally high insulin resistance
  • Pancreatic cells respond by producing excessive amounts of insulin
  • Over time, the pancreas “wears out” and cannot produce as much insulin, which makes the condition worse

Many medical and health issues can arise from high blood sugar levels. These include kidney disease, heart disease, and vision loss.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

A person may have type 2 diabetes if they exhibit the symptoms below: 

  • An increased need to drink liquids
  • Increased hunger
  • Not being able to heal promptly with wounds
  • Not having a lot of energy during the day
  • Blurred vision
  • A sudden decrease in weight
  • A sensation of numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Dry skin

Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes

There are several options to treat type 2 diabetes:

  • Start a weight loss program
  • Change eating habits to incorporate healthy eating
  • Include at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week

These first steps of a lifestyle change can be big changes to someone. A physician will guide patients through these changes.

If the lifestyle changes do not help, then a physician will prescribe medication.

Medication for Type 2 Diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes may take the following medications:

Gestational Diabetes

In the United States, 10% of pregnant women have gestational diabetes according to the American Diabetes Association.

Causes of Gestational Diabetes

It is not clear what causes gestational diabetes. However, it is probably related to the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes occurs when the hormones are changing during pregnancy. The hormone levels change can affect the levels of insulin, which causes abnormally high blood sugar.

Gestational diabetes usually resolves away after the baby is born. However, in some cases the mother can develop type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes.

Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

Some of the symptoms of gestational diabetes include:

  • Feeling more thirsty than normal.
  • The urge to urinate more.

Treatment of Gestational Diabetes

To treat gestational diabetes pregnant women need to keep track of glucose levels. Daily monitoring of glucose helps improve gestational diabetes. The following glucose levels are guidelines for pregnant women:

  • Before a meal: 95 mg/dl or less
  • One hour after a meal: 140 mg/dl or less
  • Two hours after a meal: 120 mg/dl or less

Other treatments for gestational diabetes include:

  • Special meal plans.
  • Daily physical activity.
  • Insulin injections.

Medications for Gestational Diabetes

Insulin is commonly prescribed for gestational diabetes because it is known to be safe for the developing fetus. While insulin is considered first-line treatment, two alternative oral medications include metformin and glyburide. However, the oral agents cross the placenta and their long-term safety is unclear for the baby.

Prediabetes

Prediabetes is a condition where a person has higher than normal blood sugar levels. This does not put them into the classification of having type 2 diabetes.

It has the same long-term effects as type 2 diabetes if it goes undiagnosed or treated. More than 1 in 3, or 96 million adults have prediabetes. Out of the 96 million, 8 in 10 do not even know they have prediabetes.

Causes of Prediabetes

The cause of prediabetes is unknown but here are a few factors:

  • Genetics
  • Being overweight for some time.
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Extra fat around the abdomen.

Symptoms of Prediabetes

Symptoms of prediabetes are like that of type 2 diabetes which include:

  • Increased urge to urinate
  • Increased appetite
  • An increased thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue

Treatment of Prediabetes

Treatment is usually a lifestyle change that can help control blood sugar levels.

Some treatments include:

  • Increase activity levels to at least 150 minutes a week.
  • Weight loss
  • Eat healthier foods that include more fruits and vegetables.
  • Smoking cessation
  • Medication.

Medications for Prediabetes

Metformin is the only medication used to treat prediabetes.

Sources:

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