What is diabetes

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With diabetes such an epidemic today, it is essential that you know how to answer the question, What is Diabetes. And how to prevent getting diabetes yourself or even reverse type 2 diabetes in some cases.

In layman terms, diabetes is a disease that is described by an inability of the body to process sugars properly. When we eat or drink, our pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin is released into the blood and helps to regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. Diabetes is a condition where this process does not function correctly.

The reason why diabetes occurs, and is prevalent worldwide, is because your body is not producing enough insulin (often called Type 1 Diabetes) which requires someone to take insulin injections. In some situations, a person’s body continues to produce insulin, but their body becomes. This renders the insulin ineffective. This is normally called Type 2 Diabetes and is rapidly becoming more common.

The danger is that while diabetes is not immediately life threatening, the long-term effects of high blood sugar can be damaging to one’s health. Uncontrolled diabetes and prolonged high blood sugar levels can, in later life, cause problems to many organs including the kidneys, eyes, nerves and the heart.

This may sound grim, however controlling blood sugar by a combination of medicine, diet and exercise will vastly reduce the long-term complications. Recent research shows that 2 in every 100 people have diabetes. Alarmingly half of these people do not even know they have it. Many people have diabetes without being aware of it because someone with diabetes looks no different from anyone else.

How do you find out if you have diabetes? The simplest way to check if you have diabetes is to arrange a blood sugar check with your doctor. A tiny sample of blood, obtained by pricking a finger is checked using a small electronic tester.

A normal blood sugar level is generally between 72 – 126 mg/dl or 4 – 7 mmol/l (where 1 mmol/l = 18mg/dl). If the body is unable to keep the blood sugar level within these limits, then diabetes is diagnosed. Diagnosis of diabetes can occur out of the blue during a routine check-up but more often it follows from the sufferer experiencing the “symptoms” of diabetes. These symptoms can be many or few, mild or severe depending on the individual.

testing for diabetes

Common Diabetic Symptoms

Loss Of Weight – Glucose is the form of sugar which is the body’s main fuel. Diabetics cannot process this properly so it passes into the urine and out of the body. Less fuel means the body’s reserve tissues are broken down to produce energy with a resultant loss in weight.

Dry Throat and mouth

Often it seems no matter how much you drink your mouth still feels dry. The problem is compounded before diabetes is diagnosed by sufferers drinking huge amounts of sugary drinks! Of course this only increases the blood sugar level and leads to increased thirst.

Urinating More Often – Sufferers need to urinate often and pass large volumes each time. In addition, this symptom takes no account of time so sleep is constantly disturbed by having to visit the bathroom during the night. It is a mistake to think this is caused by the increased thirst and drinking more. On the other hand, high sugar levels in the blood spill over into the urine making it syrupy. To counter-act this water is drawn from the body causing dehydration and therefore thirst.

If you have experienced any of these symptoms it does not necessarily follow that you are diabetic however it might be advisable to visit your doctor to be sure. If it does turn out that you have diabetes please do not panic! It can come as a shock and it will mean some changes in your life. While it is incurable it can be treated so the long term complications are reduced or even eliminated.

Diabetes Types, Understanding the Differences

Type 1 diabetes is the more acute form. It is typically treated with special dietary restrictions, exercise and occasionally with insulin. Type 1 diabetes usually will be treated with special diet, exercise, and a weight loss plan before insulin is added. This form of diabetes is considered an insulin-dependent disease.

What is diabetes? Type 2 diabetes is first treated with a diabetic diet, exercise and weight loss. If theses measures are not successful in controlling blood sugar and insulin levels, oral medications may be added. Insulin is then finally considered if these also are unsuccessful. Type 2 diabetes normally occurs in adults who are middle age or older, which is why it is sometimes called Late-Onset Diabetes, In this case, he pancreas still produces the right levels of insulin but the body has become resistant to it.

It is feasible to delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes if it runs in the family. Through losing weight, getting the right amount of exercise and controlling your diet, you can manage. If Type 2 diabetes is not treated, eventually the same complications may ensue as those seen with Type 1 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is seen in pregnant women. Normally it disappears after the birth of the baby, however, treatment for the mother to stabilize the blood glucose levels will decrease the chance of complications to the baby as well as the mother.

Juvenile Onset diabetes is another major form of diabetes that affects many children. It is believed to be the onset of Type 1 diabetes. If a child is showing even a few of the symptoms of diabetes, it is vital that they are checked by a doctor. It is estimated that over two million adolescents are in the pre-diabetes stage. This is mostly due to being overweight. In this condition, blood glucose levels are high but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Teens usually develop this between the ages of 12 and 19.

By knowing exactly what is diabetes and recognizing the symptoms early on you can prevent it from ever building up within you. Start today by monitoring your health and daily eating habits. Or as they say, preventing is better than finding a cure later on!

Margaret Allen

Margaret Allen is a lifelong resident of Landover, MD and a mother of two bright girls. She is a health, wellness, and family contributor at Seekyt and an experienced fitness coach and nutritionist. She helps her clients set goals and be the best and most healthy versions of themselves.