What is Diabetes and How it Develops - Diabetes Health Page

What is Diabetes and How it Develops

By Gabriela | Diabetes

What is Diabetes and How it Develops

Diabetes i.e. diabetes mellitus is a number of metabolic diseases in which an individual experiences high blood sugar i.e. blood glucose.

In these cases the production of insulin is inadequate, or the cells of the body don’t respond as they should to insulin, or it might be a combination of both. There are 3 types of diabetes, but these are the common symptoms:

Symptoms of Diabetes

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased urination and thirst
  • Sores that can’t heal
  • Increased hunger
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue

There is still a difference between the symptoms of type 1 diabetes and type 2. Those from type 1, begin to appear fast in a couple of weeks. While on the other hand, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop very slowly and may be very mild and unnoticeable.

Some people have type 2 diabetes, and still, they do not have any symptoms. There are also people that do not know about the disease until they face health problems that are related to diabetes like heart problems and blurred vision.

What Is Prediabetes

Prediabetes occurs when the levels of blood glucose are higher than normal. However, they are not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.

Most patients that have type 2 diabetes were previously diagnosed with prediabetes. What happens is that the body’s cells become resistant to insulin.

According to studies, there is certain damage to the heart and circulatory system even in the stage of prediabetes.

What Leads to Type 1 Diabetes

This kind of diabetes occurs when the immune system, which is the system of the body that needs to fight infections, actually destroys and attacks the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

According to scientists, this happens because of environmental factors and also because of genes. And they believe that viruses might also trigger this type of diabetes.

What Leads to Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common of all 3 types of diabetes. It occurs because of some factors such as genes and lifestyle factors.

Also, other things that can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes are physical inactivity, obesity, and also overweight. In fact, it is more likely to develop this type of diabetes if you are obese, not physically active or if you are overweight.

Those additional pounds can lead to resistance to insulin, common for type 2 diabetes. Another important thing that can have an effect is the location of your fat in the body.

Additional belly fat is related to insulin resistance, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and also a disease of the blood vessels.

Insulin Resistance

Usually, type 2 diabetes starts with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition where the fat cells, liver, and muscles do not use insulin properly. As a consequence, the body requires more insulin in order to aid the glucose entering the cells.

In the beginning, the pancreas produces more insulin just to keep up with the additional demand. However, over time the pancreas just can’t keep up, and that is when there is a rise in blood sugar levels.

Family History and Genes

Some genes contribute and make type 2 diabetes more likely to occur. This disease occurs more often in the following ethnic/racial groups:

  • Pacific Islanders
  • African Americans
  • Native Hawaiians
  • Alaska Natives
  • Latinos/Hispanics
  • American Indians
  • Asian Americans

The genes also play a role here because they can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes just by increasing the tendency for an individual to become obese or may be overweight.

What Leads to Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that develops in women during pregnancy. According to scientists, this diabetes develops because of the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy.

And also because of lifestyle and genetic factors.

Insulin Resistance

The placenta makes hormones that lead to insulin resistance; this occurs during late pregnancy. Although most pregnant women are able to produce a sufficient amount of insulin to overcome insulin resistance, there are some that are not able to do that.

And that is when gestational diabetes happens when the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin. Additional weight is also related to gestational diabetes.

Obese or overweight women can already have resistance to insulin before they get pregnant. Another factor may also be gaining weight during pregnancy.

Family History and Genes

When it comes to gestational diabetes, genes play a role here. It is more likely that a woman will have gestational diabetes in case there is a history of diabetes in her family.

The genes are responsible that this disorder occurring more often in some ethnic/racial groups such as:

  • Latinas/Hispanics
  • African Americans
  • Asians
  • American Indians

How to Find Out Whether You Have Prediabetes, Diabetes, or Neither

The doctors can find out whether their patients have diabetes or prediabetes. There are 3 possible tests:

The 1st Test- The Oral Glucose Tolerance Test Also Known as OGTT

  • Normal – less than 140 mg or dl
  • Prediabetes  – from 140 to 199.9 mg or dl
  • Diabetes – around 200mg or dl

In case of abnormal reading, the individual has IGT i.e. impaired glucose tolerance of 9mg/dl.

The 2nd Test- The A1C test

  • Normal – less than 5.7 percent
  • Prediabetes– from 5.7 percent to 5.99 percent
  • Diabetes – at least 6.5 percent

The 3rd Test – The Fasting Plasma Glucose i.e. FPG Test

  • Normal – less than 100 mg or dl
  • Prediabetes– from 100 mg or dl to 125.99 mg or dl
  • Diabetes– at least 126 mg or dl

Abnormal reading of this test means that the individual has IFG i.e. impaired fasting glucose.

Control of Diabetes – Treatment Is Important and Efficient

You can treat all types of diabetes. There is no cure for type 1 diabetes and this diabetes lasts a lifetime. Type 2 diabetes also lasts a lifetime, but some people somehow managed to eliminate their symptoms without any use of medication.

They have done that with a combination of control of their weight, regular exercise, and a healthy diet.

According to researchers from Mayo Clinic Arizona, gastric bypass surgery can help reverse diabetes type 2 in high proportion. The researchers also noted that within 3 to 5 years the disease occurs again in around 21 percent of the patients that have undergone surgery.

According to Yessica Ramos, MD., this occurrs because before they had the surgery, these patients had a long history of type 2 diabetes. This means that early surgical intervention in the diabetic, obese population can help improve the durability of the actual remission of type 2 diabetes.

People that have type 1 diabetes as treatment use regular insulin injections, special exercise, and a special diet. People that have type 2 diabetes to treat this type of diabetes need a special diet, exercise, and tablets. In some cases, there is a need for insulin injections.

18 List of Possible Complications

If there is no adequate control of diabetes, there is a high risk of complications. Badly controlled diabetes can lead to many complications.

  1. Healing of wounds – lesions and cuts need longer to heal
  2. Eye complications – glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts.
  3. Infections – more susceptible to infections
  4. Foot complications – ulcers,  neuropathy, and in severe cases even gangrene which can lead to amputated foot
  5. Erectile dysfunction – male impotence
  6. Skin complications – more susceptible to skin disorders and skin infections
  7. Stroke – if there is no control over the blood sugar levels,  blood pressure, and cholesterol levels there is an increased risk of stroke
  8. Heart problems – like ischemic heart disease
  9. Peripheral Arterial Disease i.e. PAD –  the symptoms are problems walking, pain in your leg, and tingling
  10. Hypertension – increased risk of stroke, kidney disease, heart attack, and eye
  11. Nephropathy – no control of blood pressure may cause kidney disease
  12. Mental health – no control over your diabetes increases the risk of anxiety, mental disorders, and depression.
  13. Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome i.e. HHNS – high blood sugar levels and no presence of ketones in the urine or blood
  14. Hearing loss – greater risk of having hearing problems
  15. Neuropathy – Diabetic neuropathy is a kind of nerve damage that can cause different problems
  16. Gum disease – higher prevalence among diabetes patients
  17. Ketoacidosis – is a combination of acidosis and ketosis that is an accumulation of acidity and ketone bodies in the blood.
  18. Gastroparesis – no proper work of the stomach muscles.

Source NIDDK | Medical News Today