All About Diabetes

This chronic condition is often shrouded in mystery. Diabetes can come on early in life, or in adulthood, and has no simple cause, and no cure. But, being diagnosed doesn’t mean you have to put your life on hold. Here’s a crash course on the condition.

All About Diabetes

What’s With the Different Types?

Type 1 Diabetes

This type of diabetes was once known as juvenile diabetes, and usually manifests itself before age 30, and without warning.

A healthy pancreas contains cells that produce insulin, a hormone that transports a form of sugar called glucose from the bloodstream into all your cells. It’s an important job: Sugar is the body’s fuel. When you develop Type 1 diabetes, however, your immune system gets confused and destroys the insulin-producing cells. Because the insulin supply then dwindles, your cells are deprived of glucose, which builds up in your bloodstream. Your body then tries to get rid of this excess glucose through your kidneys, its normal filtration system. Among other symptoms, this can cause you to feel weak and hungry, need to urinate frequently, and be intensely thirsty. If you don’t drink a lot of water, you may even get dehydrated. 

High blood glucose levels, known as hyperglycemia, can cause serious health problems. As blood vessels and nerves become damaged, serious complications like kidney failure, blindness and other complications can result.

Type 2 Diabetes

This type of diabetes, once known as adult-onset diabetes, is a progressive condition, meaning that the symptoms usually increase with time.

Unlike people with Type 1 diabetes, whose insulin producing cells are completely destroyed, people with Type 2 diabetes can still produce insulin. It’s just that they may not produce enough to meet the body’s needs, or their bodies may be unable to process the insulin that is produced. Once again, the body becomes unable to use sugar, which results in high blood sugar levels. Untreated, high blood sugar can eventually damage eyes, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels.

Risk factors for developing the disease include a family history, obesity and heart disease. Type 2 is the most common form of the condition, and is often manageable with diet and weight maintenance. Eventually most people diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes may need some form of medication.

Gestational Diabetes

This type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy, and generally clears up after childbirth. It can usually be controlled by making a few small healthy lifestyle changes like monitoring the diet, and exercising. On some occasions, insulin may be prescribed.

How Should You Deal With It?

Although diabetes is a chronic disease with serious implications, it is becoming more and more manageable. Type 1 diabetes can be managed with oral medications, insulin injections, or pumps that continuously deliver insulin to the blood. The symptoms can be mitigated by making careful dietary choices and exercising. Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed without any medication: if a person becomes proactive about leading a healthy life, he or she may stave off the need for medication for years. However, since diabetes is a serious matter which affects the entire body everyone with diabetes must see a doctor regularly and keep a close eye on heart-health, cholesterol levels, eyes, kidneys, nerves and feet.

Living With Diabetes

Discovering that you have diabetes can be frightening, but it is not a reason to panic. You can help your body by eating more nutritious foods in reasonable-size portions, exercising more, and even paying closer attention to your stress levels and your sleep habits. Diabetes isn’t like a broken arm; you can’t isolate the problem and let it heal while life goes on as usual. Controlling it means taking steps that affect your whole body. And when you take them, your body, mind and spirit will benefit.

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