Diabetes, or Diabetes Mellitus, is commonly known in the medical community as the silent killer. This is because diabetes destroys the nerve cells that control pain, so conditions like neuropathy can occur where a patient can develop a silent heart attack. Diabetes isn’t just one disease, but several – and all of them involve problems with the processing of glucose in the body.
Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to handle the processing of glucose. This type of diabetes is often diagnosed in children or young adults. People with this kind of diabetes generally must take insulin throughout their lives.
Type 2 Diabetes causes high blood sugar levels for a different reason. In Type 2, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use the insulin efficiently to metabolize glucose in the blood. Type 2 diabetes can run in families, but lifestyle and diet choices such as smoking, lack of exercise, and a diet high in fats and sugars also play a role.
Gestational Diabetes affects pregnant women – and only during pregnancy. Even if a woman hasn’t had diabetes before getting pregnant, her glucose levels can rise, and she may need insulin or other treatments to stay healthy until she gives birth. After delivery, glucose levels generally return to normal.
Prediabetes isn’t technically diabetes, but it is a condition that can lead to diabetes. If you’re prediabetic, your glucose levels are elevated but not high enough to be classified as fully diabetic.
Type 2 Diabetes can run in families, but lifestyle and diet choices such as smoking, lack of exercise, and a diet high in fats and sugars also play a role.
Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to handle the processing of glucose.
Gestational Diabetes occurs when glucose levels rise during pregnancy and will typically abate following childbirth.
Prediabetes results from many of the same causes as Type 2 Diabetes, including heredity and lifestyle factors such as smoking, lack of exercise, and unhealthy diet.
The body produces a hormone called insulin to ensure that glucose is processed correctly. If not enough insulin is produced or too much glucose is present, this system becomes unbalanced and causes the typical symptoms of diabetes:
There are some risk factors of Diabetes over which you have no control. Heredity and age are both factors, as are race and gender (Diabetes is more common among African-American and Native American populations, and affects twice as many men as women). Lifestyle factors that can lead to the development of diabetes include obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and smoking. People with high blood pressure (hypertension) are also at a higher risk of developing Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes.
If you have the typical symptoms of diabetes, your doctor may do further testing to check the levels of glucose in your blood. Tests include a fasting plasma glucose test to test blood glucose levels without food for several hours, and an oral glucose tolerance test, which requires you to consume a sweet drink during testing to see how your body responds to glucose. You may have several tests over time to determine your glucose levels and establish a treatment plan.
The goal of diabetes treatment is to keep blood glucose levels as close as possible to normal and to prevent diabetic complications such as vision problems, poor blood circulation, and heart conditions. People with Type 1 diabetes and some with Type 2 or gestational diabetes might need to take insulin regularly by injection or insulin pump, but many people with Type 2 diabetes keep symptoms under control with oral medications that aim to boost the body’s own insulin production or to limit the body’s processing of glucose.
A healthy lifestyle plays a key role in managing diabetes and preventing prediabetes from developing into full-blown Type 2 diabetes. That includes ensuring a diet designed for balanced blood sugar, engaging in regular exercise, and stopping smoking. Losing weight can also help to prevent Type 2 diabetes and its complications. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, making positive changes, and working closely with your doctors at Medical Offices of Manhattan can make living with diabetes easier – and healthier.
Cutting sugar and artificial flavors from your diet can help. Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy routine and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Set goals to lose weight if you’re obese. Follow a low carb diet to prevent sugar breakdown and build-up. Quit smoking to prevent arterial damage.
Diabetic neuropathy is one of the myriad complications that can develop in untreated diabetes. Neuropathy occurs when there is damage to nerve cells, including pain cells. This condition can cause a cascade of conditions like foot ulcers, also known as Charcot’s foot disease.
Untreated diabetes can also cause kidney complications like a condition called Diabetic Nephropathy. Where the increased sugar damages the kidney which can lead to dialysis for treatment.
Untreated diabetes can also lead to Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) – a life-threatening emergency that can arise when the body cannot access glucose for energy, and it starts to break down fat instead. Ketones are a by-product of this process. As they accumulate in the blood, they can make the blood too acidic.
Symptoms of DKA include:
People with diabetes who experience symptoms of DKA need immediate medical attention. DKA can be fatal, and it needs emergency hospital treatment.
Diabetes can lead to heart, kidney, and nerve failure. Related conditions are listed above.
Diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar is not regulated and controlled properly. There are several different types of Diabetes, each with its own treatment. Type 1 diabetes is associated with young children where there is an insulin deficiency and treated with insulin shots. Type 2 diabetes is considered to be insulin-resistant, frequently associated with obesity, and can be treatable with weight loss. Both types of diabetes result in increased glucose levels in the body that can lead to systemic long- and short-term complications.