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Fast Facts on Diabetes 

Diabetes describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. Patients with high blood sugar will typically experience frequent urination, they will become increasingly thirsty, and hungry. 

There are three types of diabetes: 

  1. Type 1 Diabetes 

The body does not produce insulin. Some people may refer to this type as insulin-dependent diabetes, juvenile diabetes, or early-onset diabetes. People usually develop Type 1 diabetes before their 40th year, often in early adulthood or teenage years. 

Patients with Type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin injections for the rest of their life. They must also ensure proper blood-glucose levels by carrying out regular blood tests and following a special diet. 

  1. Type 2 Diabetes 

The body does not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin (insulin resistance). 

Approximately 90 percent of all cases of diabetes worldwide are Type 2. 

Some people may be able to control their Type  2 diabetes symptoms by losing weight, following a healthy diet, doing plenty of exercise, and monitoring their blood glucose levels. However, Type 2 diabetes is typically a progressive disease – it gradually gets worse – and the patient will probably end up having to take insulin, usually in tablet form. 

Overweight and obese people have a much higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to those with a healthy body weight. People with a lot of visceral fat, also known as central obesity, belly fat, or abdominal obesity, are especially at risk. Being overweight/obese causes the body to release chemicals that can destabilize the body’s cardiovascular and metabolic systems. 

The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is also greater as we get older. Experts are not completely sure why, but say that as we get age we tend to put on weight and become less physically active. Those with a close relative who has/had Type 2 diabetes, people of Middle Eastern, African, or South Asian descent also have a higher risk of developing the disease. 

  1. Gestational Diabetes 

This type affects females during pregnancy. Some women have very high levels of glucose in their blood, and their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin to transport all of the glucose into their cells, resulting in progressively rising levels of glucose. 

Diagnosis of gestational diabetes is made during pregnancy. The majority of gestational diabetes patients can control their diabetes with exercise and diet. Between 10-20 percent of them will need to take some kind of blood-glucose-controlling medications. Undiagnosed or uncontrolled gestational diabetes can raise the risk of complications during childbirth. The baby may be bigger than he/she should be. 

Common Symptoms of Diabetes 

  • Frequent Urination – Have you been going to the bathroom to urinate more frequently? When there is too much glucose (sugar) in your blood you will urinate more often. If your insulin is ineffective, your kidneys cannot filter the glucose back into the blood. The kidneys will take water from your blood in order to dilute the glucose, which in turns fills up your bladder. 

  • Disproportionate Thirst – If you are urinating more than usual, you will need to replace that lost liquid. You will be drinking more than usual. Have your been drinking more than usual lately? 

  • Intense Hunger – As the insulin in your body is not working properly, or is not there at all, and your cells are not getting their energy, your body may react by trying to find more energy (food). You will become hungry. 

  • Weight Gain – This might be the result of intense hunger. 

  • Unusual Weight Loss – This is more common among people with Type 1 diabetes. As your body is not making enough insulin it will seek out another energy source. Muscle tissue and fat will be broken down for energy. As Type 1 is of a more sudden onset and Type 2 is much more gradual, weight loss is more noticeable with Type 1. 

  • Increased Fatigue – If your insulin is not working properly, or is not there at all, glucose will not be entering your cells and providing them with energy. This will make you feel tired and listless. 

  • Irritability – Irritability can be due to your lack of energy. 

  • Blurred Vision – This can be caused by tissue being pulled away from your eye lenses. This affects your eyes’ ability to focus. 

  • Cuts and Bruises Don’t Heal Properly or Quickly – Do you find cuts and bruises take a much longer time than usual to heal? When there is more sugar (glucose) in your body, its ability to heal can be undermined. 

  • More Skin and/or Yeast Infections – When there is more sugar in your body, its ability to recover from infections is affected. Women with diabetes find it especially difficult to recover from bladder and vaginal infections. 

  • Itchy Skin – A feeling of itchiness on your skin is sometimes a symptom of diabetes. 

  • Gums Red and/or Swollen – If your gums are tender, red and/or swollen, this could be a sign of diabetes. Your teeth could become loose as the gums pull away from them. 

  • Frequent Gum Disease – As well as the previous gum symptoms, you may experience more frequent gum disease and/or gum infections. 

  • Sexual Dysfunction Among Men – If you are over 50 and experience frequent or constant sexual dysfunction (erectile dysfunction), it could be a symptom of diabetes. 

  • Numbness or Tingling in Feet and Hands – If there is too much sugar in your body your nerves could become damaged, as could the tiny blood vessels that feed those nerves. You may experience tingling and/or numbness in your hands and feet. 

For more information about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association website at www.diabetes.org