Diabetes Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
samatha • onHealth & Beauty 12 years ago • 7 min read

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as diabetes is a set of related diseases in which the body cannot regulate the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. It can be caused by too little insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas to regulate blood sugar), resistance to insulin, or both. Glucose levels in blood are above normal in case of diabetes. People with diabetes have problems converting food to energy. After a meal, food is broken down into a sugar called glucose, which is carried by the blood to cells throughout the body. Cells use insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas, to help them convert blood glucose into energy.

Glucose in the blood gives you energy - the kind you need when you walk briskly, run for a bus, ride your bike, take an aerobics class, and perform your day-to-day chores. Glucose in the blood is produced by the liver from the foods you eat. In a healthy person, the blood glucose level is regulated by several hormones, one of which is insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas, a small organ near the stomach that also secretes important enzymes that help in the digestion of food. Insulin allows glucose to move from the blood into liver, muscle, and fat cells, where it is used for fuel. People with diabetes either do not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or cannot use insulin properly (type 2 diabetes), or both. In diabetes, glucose in the blood cannot move into cells, and it stays in the blood. This not only harms the cells that need the glucose for fuel, but also harms certain organs and tissues exposed to the high glucose levels.

People develop diabetes because the pancreas does not make enough insulin or because the cells in the muscles, liver, and fat do not use insulin properly, or both. As a result, the amount of glucose in the blood increases while the cells are starved of energy. Over the years, high blood glucose, also called hyperglycemia, damages nerves and blood vessels, which can lead to complications such as heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve problems, gum infections, and amputation.

Types of Diabetes

The three main types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

  1. Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile diabetes, is usually first diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults. In this form of diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas no longer make insulin because the body's immune system has attacked and destroyed them.

  2. Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes, is the most common form. People can develop it at any age, even during childhood. This form of diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which muscle, liver, and fat cells do not use insulin properly. At first, the pancreas keeps up with the added demand by producing more insulin. In time, however, it loses the ability to secrete enough insulin in response to meals.

  3. Gestational diabetes develops in some women during the late stages of pregnancy. Although this form of diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, a woman who has had it is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes is caused by the hormones of pregnancy or by a shortage of insulin.

Type 1 diabetes comprises about 10% of total cases of diabetes in the United States. Type 1 diabetes is typically recognized in childhood or adolescence. People with type 1 diabetes generally require daily insulin treatment to sustain life. At least 90% of patients with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is typically recognized in adulthood, usually after age 45 years. Type 2 diabetes is usually controlled with diet, weight loss, exercise, and oral medications. More than half of all people with type 2 diabetes require insulin to control their blood sugar levels at some point in the course of their illness.

About 17 million Americans (6.2%) are believed to have diabetes. About one third of those do not know they have it.

About 1 million new cases occur each year, and diabetes is the direct or indirect cause of at least 200,000 deaths each year. The incidence of diabetes is increasing rapidly. This increase is due to many factors, but the most significant are the increasing incidence of obesity and the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles. Pre-Diabetes

In pre-diabetes, blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be characterized as diabetes. However, many people with pre-diabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Pre-diabetes also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. With modest weight loss and moderate physical activity, people with pre-diabetes can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Symptoms

The symptoms of diabetes often go undiagnosed because many seem so harmless. Early diabetes symptoms can be subtle or seemingly harmless. In fact, you could have diabetes for months or even years and not even know it.

In the United States alone, more than 6 million people are unaware that they have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. But you don't need to become a statistic. Understanding possible diabetes symptoms can lead to early diagnosis and treatment - and a lifetime of better health

Excessive thirst and increased urination Flu-like feeling Weight loss or gain Blurred vision Slow-healing sores or frequent infections Tingling hands and feet Red, swollen, tender gums Please take your body's hints seriously. If you notice any possible diabetes symptoms, contact your doctor. The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin. Diabetes is a serious condition. But with your active participation and the support of your health care team, you can manage diabetes while enjoying an active, healthy life

How is Diabetes Diagnosed?

According to current recommendations presence of any of the criteria below indicates that the person has diabetes:

Fasting plasma glucose is above 126 mg/dl; Diabetes symptoms exist and casual plasma glucose is equal to or above 200 mg/dl; or Plasma glucose is equal to or above 200 mg/dl during an oral glucose tolerance test. If any of these test results occurs, testing should be repeated on a different day to confirm the diagnosis.

How is diabetes treated?

The mainstay of treatment of diabetes is to maintain reasonably constant levels of glucose in the blood, and mainly two things achieve this: regulating the diet and regulating your insulin dose.

Three methods of treatment are available for diabetic patients:

Diet alone Diet and an oral hypoglycemic agent(drugs which lower the glucose levels in blood) Diet and insulin. There are certain things that those who have diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2, need to do to be healthy. You need to have a meal (eating) plan. You need to pay attention to how much you exercise, because exercise can help your body use insulin better to convert glucose into energy for cells. Everyone with type 1 diabetes, and some people with type 2 diabetes, needs to take insulin injections. Some people with type 2 diabetes take pills called "oral agents" which help their bodies produce more insulin and/or use the insulin it is producing better. Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage their disease with weight loss, diet and exercise alone and don't need any medication.

Everyone who has diabetes should have regular eye exams (once a year) by an ophthalmologist to make sure that any eye problems associated with diabetes are caught early, and treated before they become serious.

Also, people with diabetes need to learn how to monitor their blood sugars day-to-day at home using home blood sugar monitoring.

What are the complications of diabetes?

The number of complications poorly managed and long-standing diabetes can cause is enormous. Virtually every system of the body is affected by it and complications related to them start surfacing over a period of time. Following are the more common complications seen in diabetics:

heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, blood vessel disease that causes gangrene of affected limbs necessitating an amputation, nerve damage, and impotence in men.

But happily, numerous studies have shown that if people keep their blood sugars as close to normal as possible, they can reduce their risk of developing some of these complications by 50 percent or more.

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  • Guest 10 years ago
    There isn't much you can do as long as your mom is depressed. Her way of being isn't related to diabetes but more to the fact that she realizes she's sick. Try to make her get over this feeling. Perhaps then she will feel better.